Films with the power to heal kids


by MICHAEL KING and JOAN KINSEY / Evening Magazine

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Posted on January 24, 2013 at 6:00 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 5 at 3:37 AM

Throughout Seattle Children's hospital, doctors work their magic to heal. As do the patient's ... "movie magic!"

Their most famous production to date: the "Stronger" video directed by former patient, Chris Rumble.

While in the hospital receiving treatment for leukemia, Chris exposed the courage behind cancer. His show of strength went viral, with more than 3 million hits so far. 

It's one of many movies made at Seattle Children's through their "healing arts program."

Video Producer, Mike Attie said. "A lot of the videos in a direct way or not so direct way reflect the patient's experiences and the challenges they face, but in a nontraditional way."

Attie is a member of the crew from Seattle Children's that helps patients express themselves through film .

He said, "Like this floating head video which maybe in a humorous way shows how hard it is to be in isolation." 

He's referring to a short film titled: "Haunting: A Head."

In the movie, "Cat Immersion Project," Maga Barzallo gives an impromptu performance from the privacy of her room. She never imagined it could become a big-screen movie theater with surround sound.

At the time, Barzallo was in isolation, homesick, and really missing her cat, Merry.

To help make her recovery more comfortable, Seattle Children's put out a casting call on Facebook, asking people to post their cat pictures. The response was overwhelming.

Barzallo got to see all the pictures when they were projected onto huge sheets draped over her bed.

She said seeing all the cat photos made her feel better.

"It was like so many. It was like over a thousand, more than that. You really realize how good people are at heart," Barzallo added.

While the "Healing Arts Program" featured Barzallo in front of the camera, it's a reverse angle for cancer patient, Ruby Smith. 

Her Mom, Kate, explained, "She was lying down most of the time because she was that sick. And that was the interesting perspective of it."

In "The Hidden Shadows of Cancer," Ruby Smith shared black and white photographs taken while battling burkitt lymphoma. They were shot from her hospital bed and share a rare look at a cancer patient's life.

"She was really open about it. I think that's beautiful and I think that Ruby really cracked that open, getting rid of the shame, embarrassment and neediness around having cancer," her mom said.

Ruby expected to pursue a career in photojournalism like her Dad. She passed away in May, 2012, but leaves behind a powerful portrait of her fighting spirit.

Her mom said, "It's so devastating that we lost her, that anything can help to honor her legacy, it's still so shocking to us. So anything helps."

From lives lost to lives restored, poignant messages are captured on film. They range in scope, but all have the power to heal.

Attie said, "I think it takes them out of their struggle for a little bit. It takes them out of this unfortunate reality that they are in the hospital and they can just have fun."

Films from the Healing Arts Program can be seen at the Children's Film Festival Seattle this weekend.

Check out show times and venues: