Mixed Match World Premiere at Vancouver International Film Festival
Mixed Match documentary explores how multiethnic ancestry impactsblood cancer patient survival
Filmmaker encourages minority and multiethnic communities to register as stem cell donors
Mixed Match screenings at VIFF:Tuesday, October 4, 6:30pm at the Rio TheatreThursday, Oct. 6, 1:00pm at Theatre 10, Cineplex International Village
Running Time: 96 minutesVANCOUVER, B.C. –What if your lineage holds the key to saving another’s life? An emotion-filled new documentary shows that people descended from multiple ethnicities face a grim forecast for survival after contracting blood cancer due to the long odds of finding a close genetic match for a bone marrow and stem cell transplant. By sharing the heart-wrenching stories of patients hoping to find a donor with similar ancestry, Mixed Match, world premiering at the 2016 Vancouver International Film Festival on Tuesday, October 4, 6:30pm at the Rio Theatre, makes a compelling case for minorities and multiethnic people to register as donors.“The difficulty of finding a bone marrow donor is a worldwide issue that affects tens of thousands of people a year,” says filmmaker Jeff Chiba Stearns. “Few people know about this topic and I wanted to clear up misconceptions and encourage more minorities and multiethnic people to help increase patients’ odds of finding a match by becoming bone marrow donors and donating to umbilical cord stem cell banks.”Mixed Match tells the stories of patients whose unique multiracial heritage may complicate their search for a stem cell match due to the increased complexity of their genetics. With the worldwide stem cell registry being primarily made up of Caucasian donors, there is a serious underrepresentation of minorities and multiethnic people. The film compels members of these communities to become donors, beginning by first registering in the bone marrow donor database. The act of registering is non-invasive, accomplished by simply submitting a cheek swab. If later called upon as a match, a donor undergoes a process where blood stem cells or bone marrow is collected.
The film, which will have a secondary screening on Thursday, Oct. 6, 1:00pm at Theatre 10 of Cineplex International Village, also illuminates the process of how new parents can help save lives by donating their infant’s umbilical cord blood after giving birth. Stearns hopes his film will spark a dialogue on mixed identity, ethnicity and ancestry in medicine.“My work focuses on my multiracial identity, and this subject is an important topic as we see multiethnic people becoming the fastest growing demographic in North America,” says Stearns, who is of Japanese, English, Scottish, Russian, and German ancestry. “Some people may not even be aware they have mixed heritage until they, or someone they know, needs a transplant themselves.””This is an opportunity to help save someone’s life who is battling cancer,” says Stearns of registering as a donor. “This is a curative treatment for cancer that exists right now and, in this day and age, every patient should have the opportunity to find their perfect match.”OtherHalf, a registered charity determined to close the gap of Chinese underrepresentation in the global stem cell donor registry, will be on hand at the film’s secondary screening to register minorities and multiethnic people between the ages of 17 and 35 to join the OneMatch national bone marrow registry run by the Canadian Blood Services.SYNOPSISMixed Match is an important human story told from the perspective of mixed race blood cancer patients who are forced to reflect on their multiracial identities and complex genetics as they struggle with a seemingly impossible search to find bone marrow donors, all while exploring what role race plays in medicine. With the multiracial community becoming one of the fastest growing demographics in North America, being mixed race is no longer just about an identity, it can be a matter of life and death.ABOUT THE FILMMAKERJeff Chiba Stearns is an Emmy® nominated and Webby award winning animation and documentary filmmaker. After graduating from the Emily Carr University with a degree in Film Animation, he founded Vancouver based boutique animation studio Meditating Bunny Studio Inc. in 2001. From animated viral video ads and broadcast commercials for companies like Sharpie, 3M and Post-it Note, to short and feature films like “What Are You Anyways?” (2005), Yellow Sticky Notes (2007), One Big Hapa Family (2010), Ode to a Post-it Note (2010) and Yellow Sticky Notes | Canadian Anijam (2013), Jeff’s work has broadcast around the world, screened in hundreds of international film festivals and garnered over 30 awards. Mixed Match is Jeff’s second feature length documentary.SOCIAL MEDIAWebsite: www.mixedmatchproject.comFacebook: www.facebook.com/mixedmatchTwitter / Instagram: @MixedMatchMovieHashtags: #MixedMatch #MustSeeBC