Stanford Center for
Biomedical Ethics


September 2014

Emmy Award Nomination for The Revolutionary Optimists

The Revolutionary Optimists has been nominated for a National Emmy Award in News and Documentary Long Form. Read more here.

August 2014

Map Your World Website Now Live

Check out our new site and start collecting data and making change

February 2014

Filmmaker/Physician Encourages Williamette Students to Dream Big

Maren Grainger-Monsen visited Williamette's campus on February 12 and 13 to show her latest documentary, The Revolutionary Optimists and encouraged Williamette students to dream big. Read more here.

January 2014

The Revolutionary Optimists Opening in Theaters

We are thrilled to see that Melinda Gates profiled Sikha on Facebook recently as one of the most inspirational women she met in 2013. Link

June 2013

Youth Activists Discuss The Revolutionary Optimists

At Community Cinema events around the country, adults and kids alike found inspiration in the film’s empowering message. Thirteen-year-old Chinyelu Mwaafrika and eleven-year-old Asli Mwaafrika, two youth activists from Indianapolis, Indiana, joined our Indianapolis Community Cinema event at the KI EcoCenter, where they served as panel members for a post-film discussion. These two youth leaders shared their thoughts on the film, as well as their experiences working to improve their community. Read more here.

The Revolutionary Optimists Broadcast & Community Cinema Screenings

The Revolutionary Optimists will have a national broadcast on PBS on Independent Lens on June 17, 2013.  Leading up to this event, the film has also been selected to be part of the ITVS Community Cinema program. The film will begin screening in cities all over the country starting May 1, 2013. The Community Cinema screening schedule can be found here.

Additionally, this fall we were thrilled to be selected to participate in the Women and Girls Lead Global campaign, ITVS’ new partnership with USAID, The Ford Foundation, and CARE. The Global program will broadcast Revolutionary Optimists to television audiences in nine countries across the world, from Malawi to Peru, and will be a part of a three-year media project to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment abroad.  The film will also be part of the US Women and Girls Lead Program, ITVS’ multi-platform media campaign to support and sustain a growing movement to empower women, their communities, and future generations.

RARE wins Special Jury Award at the Long Island Film Festival

RARE screening at DIA National Conference in Boston June 25th

RARE will screen at the DIA National Conference in Boston on June 25, 2013 from 5:30 - 7:30pm. We are excited to be part of such an amazing event.
Screening info here.

We want to continue this momentum and support the HPS community by spreading the word about the broadcast.  Join us on facebook and twitter and visit our new website to see airdates as they are added daily.

Watch a 30 second promo of RARE.

February 2013

The Revolutionary Optimists Opening in Theaters

We are thrilled to announce that our film The Revolutionary Optimists will begin a theatrical run in New York on Friday March 29th at Cinema Village and at the Leammle in Los Angeles on April 19th. Additional cities will follow soon, stay tuned for an update!

The Revolutionary Optimists wins Sundance Hilton Sustainability Award

We just returned from the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah where our film, The Revolutionary Optimists, was honored to receive the Sundance Hilton Lightstay Sustainabilty Award. The winners were chosen out of 1,500 feature-length documentaries and more than 5,000 short film entries submitted to the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program and Fund. As our project came out of the Sundance Institute's fellowship program, and the documentary story & edit lab, it was such a thrill to return to Park City and discuss the film and its impact with the great community of filmmakers and activists there.

November 2012

World Premiere of The Revolutionary Optimists - International Film Festival of India 

We were honored to have our International premiere of The Revolutionary Optimists in November at the International Film Festival of India in Goa - India’s longest running and most venerable film festival.  Along with Amlan, the featured character in the film, we presented the project to an Indian audience for the first time and the reception to film was wonderful. (Read this feature article for a sense of the Indian Press.This initial engagement with Indian screening partners and NGOs was an exciting first step for the screening and outreach program we have planned for South Asia and Africa in 2013.

October 2012

San Francisco Chronicle covers RARE

The San Francisco Chronicle interviewed Maren Grainger-Monsen, Nicole Newnham, and Heather Kirkwood about the documentary RARE.  The article states that "many patients with rare conditions lack adequate, disease-specific treatments - assuming they've even been diagnosed at all. They will often go through years of uncertainty and multiple misdiagnoses before finally learning the name for their disease." Maren Grainger-Monsen says that RARE has given people a lot of hope "from knowing their are others like them."

Read entire article
Download file

August 2012

Stanford News and Broadcast on KQED

RARE was featured in a news article at the Stanford School of Medicine this week.  The film will be broadcast on KQED, the Bay Area's public television station, on September 9th at 7pm, and will be rebroadcast on September 11th at 11pm.  The film is airing on over 100 stations this fall.

"This is a real story about real people and the actions they decide to take," Co-director Nicole Newnham said. "We hope the people who watch Rare come away with a better appreciation for the patients who have a rare disease, and the researchers and doctors who are trying to help them.

Read the article to learn more about the film.

KVI Radio Interview

Co-director Maren Grainger-Monsen was interviewed on KVI radio in Seattle, Washington about the upcoming broadcast of RARE.  Play the interview below to hear more background information about the film, Donna Appell's quest to gather enough patients to start a clinical trial, and Maren's approach as a documentary filmmaker.

KVI Radio Interview

Watch RARE on National Public Television

RARE, a new feature documentary by Maren Grainger-Monsen and Nicole Newnham broadcast on National Public Television starting August 11, 2012.  RARE follows an extraordinary mother in a race against time as she unites a group of isolated people around the world in a quest to treat her daughter’s rare genetic disease. Check out our broadcast schedule to find your local airdate.

April 2012

RARE Makes FOX News

After an incredible screening at the Brooklyn Girl Film Festival in New York where RARE won Best Feature Film, we have had some excellent press coverage about the film and the HPS Network.  This has been a great opportunity to bring more visibility to the project and educate people about Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome.  RARE was recently featured in a news story presented by FOX News in Kansas.  Heather Kirkwood, one of the main subjects in our new documentary is profiled in this news story.  Watch the video here:

March 2012

Skoll World Forum

We are thrilled to announce that we have been invited to present The Revolutionary Optimists at the Skoll World Forum in Oxford next week as part of the Sundance Institute Film Screening: Stories of Change. Maren Grainger-Monsen and Nicole Newnham will offer an exciting sneak peak of their upcoming film on Wednesday, March 28th at 9:30 pm in the New Theater. They will be joined by special guests--Salim and Sikha who are featured in the film. The team will take part in a panel discussion with social entrepreneurs and other award-winning filmmakers from around the world.

Read more about the Skoll World Forum here:

Festival Screening Announced - Brooklyn Girl Film Festival

RARE will have a premiere screening in New York on March 31st at 12:30pm at the Brooklyn Girl Film Festival. This is an amazing opportunity to see the film on the big screen. You can find out more about the festival and the screening here:

Tickets and screening information can be found here:

Recipients of the Tribeca New Media Fund

We are thrilled to announce that we have been selected as one of six projects to receive the first-ever Tribeca Film Institute New Media Fund.  This is a huge step for Map Your World and will allow us to further develop and implement our multi-platform project.  We look forward to fulfilling our goal of putting the power of new technologies into the hands of young change agents, enabling them to map, track, and improve the health of their own communities--and then share their stories of change with each other and the world.

See more here:

Participant in the Sundance Documentary Edit and Story Lab

Every summer the Sundance Institute hosts the Documentary Edit and Story Lab. The Revolutionary Optimists was fortunate to be one of only five films selected to attend this intensive weeklong event in Park City, Utah.  A team of award winning directors and editors were flown in to sit and work with us, offering critical feedback and support as we workshopped the rough cut of the film.  This was an inspiring opportunity for creative development during our post-production editing process.

Read more here:

RARE receives praise in Dean’s Report

A special screening of RARE was held at the Stanford Clark Auditorium on July 13th.  With standing room only, the film was incredibly well received, and many people spoke of how the film moved them on a personal level yet spoke to the universal issues of the experience of patient advocacy groups, genetic disease and clinical trials.  After the screening, Philip A. Pizzo, the dean of the School of Medicine, wrote in the Dean’s newsletter:

“Dr. Grainger-Monsen, her colleagues and the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics provide a unique resource for Stanford, the nation and world.  Each of our lives is circumscribed by experiences and events that cross our personal "known world." Through the art of filmmaking in areas that broach and explore important ethical and human illnesses and challenges, Maren extends and deepens our personal horizons and understanding.”

Encouraged by this warm reception from the first screening, the filmmaking team is channeling the momentum into a national public television broadcast and national educational outreach efforts.

The Good Pitch


We had the opportunity to participate in the The Good Pitch at SOPAC10, a one-day live event that is sponsored by Channel 4 BRITDOC Foundation and the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program.  We were one of eight teams selected to pitch The Revolutionary Optimists and Map Your World to an audience of powerful individuals.   This event brings together foundations, NGOs, social entrepreneurs, broadcasters and potential brand partners.  The aim of The Good Pitch is to create a unique coalition around each film to maximize its impact and influence.

Read more about The Good Pitch here:

October 2011

Map Your World - Recipient of TFI New Media Fund

Map Your World was one of six recipients selected for the inaugural year of the Tribeca Film Institute New Media Fund, a diverse collection of nonfiction transmedia works exploring everything from the Egyptian Revolution to global health to the "friendly fire" death in Afghanistan of American serviceman Pat Tillman.

Key Participants: Maren Grainger-Monsen, Nicole Newnham, Matt Berg, Emily Coven, Amlan Ganguly, Emily Ozner, Eric Rodenbeck
Description: Map Your World is a multi-platform project that puts the power of new technologies into the hands of young change agents, enabling them to map, track, and improve the health of their own communities — and then share their stories of change with each other and with the world.

May 2011

Amlan Announced 2011 Ford Fellow

Amlan Ganguly has been selected as a 2011 Ford Fellow by the Ford Motor Company Corporation. It is a prestigious recognition to be chosen and we could not be more happy for him!

Each year, The Ford Motor Company International Fellowship selects a group of community leaders from different parts of the world to participate in an intense three-week program focused on the challenges of community building. The program was designed with the goal of enhancing the efforts of emerging leaders in communities throughout the world. So far, 210 individuals from 57 countries have participated.

Amlan will be a part of an exciting program at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan, taking classes in nonprofit management and leadership taught by faculty of the Picker Center for Executive Education at Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs. He will also get a chance to visit other successful nonprofit organizations and learn their business model and travel around New York and to the Ford Motor Company World Headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan.

Partnership with the Global Fund for Children

The Revolutionary Optimists is proud to announce a partnership with the Global Fund for Children.

Among all of the brilliant work the organization does, the Global Fund for Children also has a Digital Media and Learning Hub to share, and promote ideas with more than 300 innovative grassroots partners around the world. In addition, their Video Active Girls Project helps young girls around the world to participate in learning how to use media.

The Global Fund for Children’s mission is to advance the dignity of children and youth around the world - it pursues its mission by making small grants to innovative community-based organizations working with some of the world’s most vulnerable children and youth. The Global Fund for Children is an ideal partner because it is complemented by such a dynamic media program.

Revolutionary Optimists selected for
ITVS Women and Girls Lead Program

The Revolutionary Optimists is extremely fortunate to be included in the ITVS Women and Girls Lead program!

We are in great company with some remarkable programs and it is truly humbling to see that women and girls everywhere are stepping into leadership roles and working to improve their communities, and making innovations in science, the arts, business, and governance.

ITVS of course brings independently-produced, high-quality public broadcast and new media programs to local, national and international audiences. The Women and Girls Lead initiative is designed to focus, educate, and connect women, girls, and their allies across the globe to address the challenges of the 21st century.

It is wonderful for us to be among other creative programs that will engage audiences, expand cultural awareness and catalyze civic participation - The Revolutionary Optimists has been such a tremendous learning experience for us and the project continues to grow in new and exciting directions!

Screening at TEDxChange

A short film we produced for the Sundance Institute and the Gates Foundation based on our documentary The Revolutionary Optimists was presented at an exciting event called TedxChange , co-hosted by TED and the Gates Foundation. Convened by Melinda French Gates and featuring some of the world’s most inspired thinkers and doers, TEDxChange marks the anniversary of the Millennium Development goals: Ten years in, where does the global community stand in the work to save and improve lives around the world? And what does the future hold? The event took place at the Paley Center in New York on Monday, September 20th 2010. The entire event can be streamed here .

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