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  Stand Up to Cancer  

Wildcelt.com is proud to feature our new women's health forum link. Because we feel that current health issues are an integral part of an overall "life enhancing" manner of living, we now feature monthly articles by a prominent women's health educator & advocate.

STAND UP TO CANCER: A Hollywood Fantasy
By Marleen M. Quint
Women’s Health and Environmental Advocate

"An Elephant Through a Microscopee" a compelling piece
which discribes the first time Marleen challenged the
NCI's long term cancer goals....

Doctor, Doctor, Give Me The News
(surviving breast cancer and the medical system) c. 2009

“Did IQs just drop sharply while I was away.” This line, delivered by Sigourney Weaver from the film, Aliens, is what came to mind while I was watching Tavis Smiley, on PBS, interview Hollywood producer, Laura Ziskin. Ms. Ziskin was churning out such a warped view of how to fight the cancer epidemic that I wanted to reach into the television, grab this woman by the shoulders, shake her and shout, “Snap out of it!” I was hearing the same rhetoric that I had openly criticized almost five years ago. Now the message was getting louder and more absurd.

Laura Ziskin
is a Hollywood television and film producer and the executive producer of a television fundraiser called, "Stand Up To Cancer". Ms. Ziskin, along with several other women connected with the media industry, have used their money, influence and personal cancer stories to line-up all three major television networks to air a massive fundraiser to raise cancer awareness and also raise money for finding new genetic pathways in cancer research.

My radar goes up as soon as Tavis Smiley begins to interview Ms. Ziskin. Early in the interview she says everyone in the U.S. has either had cancer or knows someone who has had it. If that’s true, then awareness is apparently not the issue. What is the issue is that the “awareness” Ms. Ziskin is referring to is actually a specific message being generated by industry through government policy that is carefully being orchestrated to sell to the American public. Ms. Ziskin states that, “Surprisingly, the cancer community is very divisive… but we’re all in it together.” She seems to think that if you pump enough money into the research community then the divisiveness will somehow be remedied. She goes on to explain the need for government, drug companies and scientists to make a commitment to solve the cancer problem. Is Ms. Ziskin aware that the current government is criminally corrupt, that the pharmaceutical industry’s bottom line is profit, and that all research money gets filtered through this nightmare set-up while scientists are the pawns caught between the two power structures?

Politicians require campaign funding; corporations with special interests, like the pharmaceutical industry, generously make donations to these political campaigns. In return, industry’s needs are firmly set in place by often aligning former industry representatives for positions as regulatory officials in government such as in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Pharmaceutical and chemical companies are often under one larger corporate umbrella which lends itself to a very incestuous relationship. Chemical companies generate pollution often linked to various forms of cancer which, in turn, opens the doors for the sister pharmaceutical companies to then develop and patent outrageously overpriced drug treatments. This brings us back to those former industry representatives often working as government officials. EPA has a history for ignoring corporate pollution while FDA has a history for approving drugs that, too often, have not been sufficiently tested for efficacy and safety. Feeding more money into this type of corruption and dysfunction only reinforces a seriously broken system.

This highly flawed reality seldom gets the attention of Hollywood producers and even less attention from the news media. While some of the media power elite are professing the need for cancer awareness, the news media is systematically keeping the truth from the American public by replacing a balanced, open public forum with smoke and mirrors entertainment news. This insures that little, if any, meaningful and in depth information about cancer ever gets to the public.

“We can make cancer a chronic, manageable disease, a disease that you can live with.” I was drinking tea during this segment of the interview and I almost did a theatrical “spit take” when I heard Ms. Ziskin utter these words. This statement was eerily similar to a statement made five years earlier by former director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach. Click here for article "An Elephant Through a Microscope" that challenges NCI's long term cancer goals. In 2003 Dr. von Eschenbach was interviewed for NCI’s newsletter, BenchMarks. He was quoted as saying, “It does not mean curing cancer but, rather, it means that we eliminate many cancers and control others, so people can live with -- not die from -- cancer.” What are the chances that these two people came up with the same exact idea independently? The answer -- zero. Laura Ziskin’s campaign is firmly linked to NCI’s campaign to turn cancer into a manageable disease controlled by carefully patented drugs developed from genetic targeted research. It’s like watching the telepathic single mindedness of those creepy little blond kids from, Village of the Damned or the soulless pod people from, Invasion of the Body Snatchers. There’s no real questioning, creative thought or even the application of some common sense, just one mindless mantra.

Speaking of questioning … I need a little clarification here. How do you “eliminate” a cancer without curing it? And if you’re not curing the disease, then how do you differentiate between “eliminating” or “eradicating” cancer from “chronic” or “manageable” disease? It’s as if these campaigns want to redefine cancer to make it seem “normal” and “acceptable.” Perhaps the hope is, if they keep saying it enough, we will eventually equate “cancer cure” with the term “manageable disease.” The twisting of language and its definitions is a sure sign of an attempt to manipulate information.

During the interview with Ms. Ziskin, Mr. Smiley airs a public service announcement advertising the upcoming television fundraiser. The announcement begins with a series of well known celebs rising from their chairs as the camera pans a sea of faces. You then hear the voice of Sidney Poitier saying, “Stand up and start a movement. Stand up for a cure, a chance, a change.” Notice Mr. Poitier’s script mentions the word “cure.” Again, are we really looking for a cure or are we accepting the inevitability of living with this dreaded disease because we refuse to address root causes? But this fund raiser must be on target if Sidney Poitier says so, right?

Let’s take a look at a couple of basic truths about cancer. Dr. Sandra Steingraber, an ecologist, references a science textbook, Human Genetics: A Modern Synthesis, within a book she has authored, Living Downstream. Disclosed are two pieces of information on cancer that seems to have eluded the Stand Up To Cancer team.


1 - “As much as 90 percent of all forms of cancer is attributed to specific environmental factors.”
2 - “Because exposure to these environmental factors can, in principle, be controlled, most cancers could be prevented … Reducing or eliminating exposures to environmental carcinogens would dramatically reduce the prevalence of cancer in the United States.”  This is not an obscure piece of scientific information. It has been well known for many years now.

The only reference Ms. Ziskin makes to the environment during her interview is when she says, “I was very influenced by, An Inconvenient Truth … Boy that really tells you the power of the mediums in which we all work …” Here’s the former Vice President of the United States winning an academy award for making a compelling documentary about the overwhelming scientific evidence of global warming which appears to already be wreaking havoc on the planet and all its inhabitants. Yet, the only message Ms. Ziskin got was how powerful the media is? She even produced the academy award show that honored this apocalyptic message. How is it possible she doesn’t get it? Perhaps the dark truth is reflected in a short speech from, The Matrix. “Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with their environment, but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply, and multiply until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows this same pattern … a virus. Human beings are a disease; a cancer of this planet.” Is it because we, ourselves, act as a type of cancer in relation to our environment that we cannot face or accept the truth about those cancers that are invading our internal environment which maim and kill us? Is our state of denial the reason "Stand Up To Cancer" is unable to ask even the simplest of questions? Questions like,

  • Why is cancer incidence increasing at such alarming rates?
  • How do I live with cancer as a manageable disease if I’m already managing other life threatening diseases?
  • What if I have no health insurance?
  • What if I’m underinsured and can’t afford the soaring costs of drug treatments and therapies?
  • Why should I be forced to live with cancer if there’s a good chance of preventing it by addressing the environmental issues linked to the disease?

If America is going to invest all this money into more cancer research,
people are going to want to know more specifics regarding the types of research being conducted. I found a breakdown of how the funding was to be spent from an e-mail interview with Laura Ziskin conducted by Sean Morrow of the Huffington Post website. The following is Ms. Ziskin’s explanation of how the funding will be managed and the areas of research for which this money will be used. “The funds raised will be administered by the American Association for Cancer Research. 70% of the money will go towards funding dream teams … designed to get new therapies to patients as quickly as possible. 20% of the funds will be for innovative out of the box research and 10% for contingencies.” Dream teams, out of the box research and contingencies -- great, I’m glad she cleared that question right up. Where’s my checkbook? I can’t wait to see what therapies and contingencies pop out of those boxes.

I then went to the American Association for Cancer Research website thinking I’d get information that had a little more meat on it. Well, I found the meat but much of it would prove too tough for the everyday lay person to digest. The info is highly technical, difficult to read and centered around genetic studies. I also read the science write-up from the "Stand Up To Cancer" website. It was written in everyday language but it rambled on with information that, at times, appeared conflicting. Neither website presented any environmental research information. There doesn’t seem to be a consistence or balance for effectively informing the public about cancer research. Explanations are exclusionary, vague, conflicting or so technically specific, only cancer researchers themselves can understand it. These extremes insure that the public will be misinformed and confused.

The "Stand Up To Cancer" campaign proposes to solve the cancer epidemic by throwing money into a misguided, corrupt and generally broken system. My overall reaction to this approach is reflected in a quote from a very well known film produced by Laura Ziskin herself. The quote I’m referring to is in the very last lines of the film, Pretty Woman. “Welcome to Hollywood! What’s your dream? Everybody comes here; this is Hollywood, land of dreams. Some dreams come true, some don’t; but keep on dreamin’ -- this is Hollywood. Always time to dream, so keep on dreamin’.” Much like the "Stand Up To Cancer" campaign, what this sentiment lacks in substance, it inspires with tinsel and enthusiasm. Making dreams come true requires identifying and incrementally overcoming all the obstacles blocking the path to actualization. Hollywood hype and entertaining fundraisers are not enough to erase cancer in the real world. Turning cancer into a manageable disease is not an acceptable option and is morally abhorrent. We cannot eliminate, eradicate or cure cancer if we do not address its root environmental causes. We must first repair the current dysfunctional bureaucracy that is promoting the narrowest research to benefit some of the richest and greediest corporations in the world. Americans are going bankrupt, suffering and dying from a disease our society can’t seem to effectively deal with head-on. The cancer fighting machine we have constructed needs some serious recalibrating before we’re ready to shout, “Lights, camera, action!”

If you have any comments or experiences that you would like to relate to us regarding this subject, please contact Marleen at MQhealthpge@aol.com

References and Resources:

The Tavis Smiley Show

2015: a target date for eliminating suffering and death due to cancer, 2003 http://strategicplan.nci.nih.gov/pdf/nci_2007_strategic_plan.pdf

Living Downstream: an ecologist looks at cancer and the environment Sandra Steingraber Addision-Wesley Publishing Co., Inc., c.1997, p261

Sean Morrow, Stand Up To Cancer - [Interview With Laura Ziskin] July 23, 2008 www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-morrow/stand-up-to-cancer---inte_b_114391.html


Life’s Delicate Balance: Causes and Prevention of Breast Cancer
Janette D. Sherman
Taylor & Francis Publishing, c. 2000

Marleen M. Quint
Originally from Hawaii, Marleen was also raised in Japan and Guam. Her background is extremely eclectic and ranges from working in the field of cartography to performing as a singer, dancer and actress.

In 1990, Marleen was diagnosed with thyroid disease followed by breast cancer less than two years later. She lost both breasts and her thyroid with no family history that would predispose her to either disease. After much research, Marleen is convinced that environmental pollution played a significant role in the development of her life-threatening diseases.

Since 1995, Marleen has dedicated herself as a women's health advocate. She has served as a consultant for several health organizations including the National Cancer Institute in Washington, DC and UCSF Mt. Zion Cancer Center in San Francisco.

Marleen has combined her skills to develop a women's health presentation which delves into the connections between the politics of gender bias and the level of morbidity suffered by women. Marleen is an active speaker in the San Francisco Bay Area


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Introduction by Mark A. Wilson

When I was growing up in Chicago in the early 1960's, one of my favorite things to do was go with my mother on special occasions to watch a foreign film at the local "art-house", as it was called in those days. The Hyde Park Theater, just a few blocks from our apartment, showed only foreign films, and they ran for weeks at a time, usually to a full house. Such foreign films as "Last Year at Marienbad" (French-Italian, 1961), D.H. Lawrence's "Sons and Lovers" (British, 1960), and Ingmar Bergman's "The Seventh Seal" and "Wild Strawberries" (Swedish, 1957), were very popular in our neighborhood during my childhood, both with adults and adolescents.

Today, the Hyde Park Theater no longer exists. The building was empty, and the entrance was shuttered the last time I visited my old neighborhood during the summer of 2003. In it's place, a multi-plex cinema has opened in the local mall, which shows endless repetitive versions of "car-chase-and-exploding-building" action films to mostly teenage audiences. There is no other theater in this neighborhood, (which includes the University of Chicago campus) that shows foreign films on a regular basis anymore.

The fate of this particular art-house theater is symptomatic of a nationwide trend that has seen a steady shrinking of distribution of foreign films over the past decade. In a recent feature article published in the New York Times, it was pointed out that foreign language films (i.e. those that have subtitles) have seen a marked decrease in both the number of screens they are released on in the United States, as well as their total share of the annual income from box office receipts in this country.

Several reasons for this decrease in viewer ship of foreign language films in the United States over the past decade. The recent New York Times article discussed some of them. Part of the problem is a self-fulfilling prophecy, where-in distributors believe that American audiences aren't as interested in seeing foreign films as they once were, so they release fewer of them, and put those they do release on fewer screens for shorter runs. This creates a vicious cycle effect, in which American audiences have fewer and fewer opportunities to see foreign films each year, so of course the total income from foreign films goes steadily down.

Another reason for the decline in foreign film viewer ship in the United States is that foreign film producers do not have the huge publicity budgets needed to compete with the new Hollywood mega-studios' budgets. Clearly, if American filmgoers don't see much publicity about foreign films, they are not likely to seek out such films in the few places that still show them.

Whatever the cause, we at Wildcelt believe passionately that foreign films are becoming an endangered species that deserves attention from the movie-going public.

To further this cause, this new link will feature reviews of the best new foreign films, both those playing in theaters, and those available on DVD or VHS. This link will be dedicated to the proposition that without the alternative voices and viewpoints which foreign films offer us, the richness and quality of American culture would be seriously diminished.

****Wildcelt's Pick****Don't miss this one.....

Sophie Scholl "The Final Days" (2005)

Based on a true story, "Sophie Scholl" is a thrilling, suspenseful drama about the arrest,
interrogation and eventual prosecution of a soft spoken, intelligent college student, who along with her brother and a small group of colleagues took a stand against Nazism in 1943. Such a movement among intellectuals was called the "White Rose", an underground organization made up primarily of college students who sought to bring down the third Reich. The group secretly met and printed up, then disseminated leaflets which told of the devastating corruption and atrocities perpetuated by the Nazi Party.

At the films beginning, Hans (Fabien Hinrichs) decides to turn up the volume in their movement by distributing propaganda leaflets at a Munich University while class was still in session. Sophie (Julia Jentsch), decides to assist him in this dangerous endeavor. Subsequent to her placement of the leaflets, a janitor becomes suspicious and soon after both Hans and Sophie are arrested. The siblings are immediately whisked off to be interrogated by Nazi Inspector, Robert Mohr. The two are questioned separately, what ensues is unquestionably some of the most riveting interrogation scenes ever filmed.

Director Marc Rothemund films these tightly composed shots to release all the emotions being experienced by Sophie during this grueling exchange. I was amazed to see how with rapid fire delivery Sophie was able to competently answer all of the Inspectors inquiries, without breaking a sweat. She handles herself so well that initially it appears she will be cleared, since brother and sister had previously worked out matching stories in the event of capture. At times the director creates the intimacy of a theatrically staged play rather than cinematic in feeling, which lends to an even more claustrophobic atmosphere to the film. Even though the events covered in "Sophie Scholl" , capture, interrogation, trial, all appear short, a mere six days, we are compellingly drawn into the tragic life of this lovely, idealistic woman. This is largely due to the remarkable acting talents of Jentsch, who is required to emote life-threatening emotions with such mercurial ability. This is a career-making performance. Ultimately, this is a film that ricochets us back in time to an era that hopefully, will not soon be forgotten.

"Downfall" Germany, 2005
by Mark A. Wilson

Very few war films have the power to literally make us feel the sense of chaos and impending doom that grips the defenders of a city under siege. "Downfall", about the battle of Berlin and the final destruction of Adolph Hitler's inner circle in April of 1945, is one of those rare films
that has such power.

Watching this riveting depiction of the last two weeks of Hitler's life, you can smell the blood and sweat of the dying German soldiers as they cry out in agony in a field hospital.And when the Russians begin shelling the center of Berlin, you feel the thundering impact of the artillery shells, as they explode in the middle of a street, sending showers of debris into the air, and obliterating human bodies caught
in their vortex of destruction.

But it is the intimate view of the final days of Hitler's inner circle, which are so vivid that make you feel you are right there, experiencing all of the intense emotions as they face the grim truth of their imminent deaths. You can even empathize with the tragic murder/suicide of Joseph Goebbels' wife and family, and dread the moment when Mrs. Goebbels force feeds deadly poisonous pills to her own children. This is the type of authentic historic film that has become all too rare in today's Hollywood. Indeed, it was made appropriately, in Germany.

Downfall stars Bruno Ganz, Alexandra Maria Lara directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel...

Caché (Hidden) 2005
by Wildcelt

The film opens with what feels like, the lengthiest static long shot in film history.At the onset of this unflinching, French thriller, we discover we are watching a surveillance video-tape that was anonymously left outside the door of the homes occupants.

Georges (Daniel Auteuil), the affable T.V. host of a popular show about books, and his lovely wife Anne (Juliette Binoche) who's in the publishing business, are the targets of this "high-tech" harassment. As video tapes of Georges life arrive in his mailbox with alarming frequency, his families ultra comfortable, Parisienne lifestyle abruptly becomes threatened.

German director Michael Haneke gives us just enough historical background regarding the "Algerian Massacres", of the 1960's to show us why Georges must confront his past. Along the journey, Georges tries to unravel mysterious events, and while trying to discover the identities of his stalkers he encounters Maji (Maurice Benichou), a childhood acquaintance, also from his past.

Haneke cleverly eludes to current upheavals in France. He shows strong parallels between Georges not wanting to follow through with the shocking but inevitable meeting with Maji, and the recent political unrest in Paris. There are some incredibly graphic scenes in the film that are by no means gratuitous. I found them vital in moving along his characters development.

In the final analysis it was the uncompromising ambiguity of the film that I found refreshing. Has our society crossed the line with it's obsession in merchandising voyeurism? This film allows us to be in the drivers seat, sit back and watch someone else's life be creepily
exposed. Hitchcock would have loved it!

by Chris Margolin

To Be and To Have (2002)

A charming documentary about a country schoolhouse in rural Saint-Etienne Sur Usson, where George Lopez teaches local children aged 3 to 13 in one classroom. He is dedicated, patient, attentive, and encouraging to all the students, and they become well-behaved, respectful learners.

Directed by Nicolas Philbert.

Good Bye, Lenin (2003)

A look at East Germany before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall. A young man, Alex, coming of age, lives with his mother, sister, her boyfriend & their baby. His mother, a good Communist, falls into a coma just prior to the wall coming down. Soon thereafter, Germany becomes "westernized". Upon awakening 8 months later, Alex and his family & friends conspire to keep the country's reform a secret from her, due to her weakened heart. Alex goes to great lengths, often hysterical, in this difficult endeavor.

Directed by: Wolfgang Becker

Tampopo (1986)

Director Juzo Itami's hit satire, once dubbed the first of the "Noodle Westerns", from Japan. It celebrates the role of food in Japanese culture and parodies American Westerns & Japanese samurai films. Tampopo is a young widow running a small noodle restaurant in Tokyo, who befriends a regular client, Goro, a cowboy-hat wearing truck driver. Together they attempt to make the perfect bowl of ramen.

Eat Drink Man Woman (1994)

An early Ang Lee film, it depicts a widower, Tao Chu, Taiwan's most famous chef, struggling to accept his 3 daughter's sudden interest in boys. It is a light comedy with touching depictions of a man trying to maintain authority over his daughters' lives while they enjoy freedom, yet realize their obligations to their father and the new dynamics of a family without their mother.

The Wedding Banquet (1993)

Another Ang Lee film, and another comedy. Wei Tong, a successful Manhattan businessman is in a perfect relationship with his live-in lover, Simon. However; his parents don't know he is gay and when they decide to visit him from Taiwan, he asks for help from his neighbor, Wei Wei. She agrees to pose as his fiancée. You can imagine the comedic happenstances that could occur....and do.

Man On The Train (2002)

This is a film about an old gangster who arrives by train in a small French town where he plans to rob the local bank. After learning that there are no rooms at the local Inn where he had hoped to plan his crime, he happens to meet an elderly teacher who offers a room in his own house. The two very different men slowly begin to build a relationship and discover that each might have been better suited for the other's way of life.

Directed by: Patrice Leconte...starring Jean Rochefort and Johnny Hallyday

House of Flying Daggers (2004)

Everyone's probably heard of this film, and though many scenes are fantastical (the in-air fight scenes, etc;) the cinematography is beautiful, special effects amazing, the sound envelopes you and the story captivates. The color of the bamboo forest is just breath-taking. Sort of like a video game come to life.

Directed by: Yimou Zhang.

Monsieur Ibrahim (2003)

Teenage orphan, Momo, lives alone in a working class neighborhood. He befriends the prostitutes on the street, as well as Monsieur Ibrahim (played by Omar Sharif), a Turkish storekeeper. Gradually, Ibrahim becomes a father figure for Momo and he learns much about the meaning of life. Their journey to Ibrahim's home is a wonderful adventure for Momo. ****A must see********

Directed by: Francois Dupeyron

Shall We Dance (1995)

Definately better than the remake with Richard Gere! A shy and somber Tokyo office worker, Shohei, notices a beautiful woman in a local dance studio and he bravely signs up for dance lessons with her. He quickly realizes he has talent and loves dancing, so much to the alarm of his wife and daughter. A sweet, funny, touching film.

Directed by: Masayuki Suo.

Il Postino (1995)

The local mailman, Mario, lives on an Italian island and yearns for the beautiful waitress in the local restaurant there. He is not handsome, nor young, but falls madly in love with her, even knowing that she has many other admirers. When Pablo Neruda, the famous poet, arrives to live on the island, Mario delivers his mail and picks up lessons on love, life, poetry, & beauty from Neruda. These things can make any man attractive, he finds out. A wonderfully romantic & "feel-good" movie.

Directed by: Michael Radford

The Triplets of Belleville (2003)

An animated film from France, directed by Sylvain Chomet. There are no spoken words at all in this unique movie; just sounds & music. A lonely boy lives with his grandmother and seeing that he loves his bicycle, she encourages him to ride, then train for competition. He becomes a life-long trainer in the sport. Years later, while riding in the Tour de France, he is kidnapped, and the story escalates into a wild search for the culprits. The grandmother is helped by three strange old women called," The Triplets of Belleville" in a grand adventurous and cunning chase to rescue the bike rider. Very innovative; great music, and you realize that dialogue is not a necessity to tell a story.