Molly Berger of West Seneca was a healthy, vivacious 14-year-old when she was diagnosed with a rare blood disease, histiocytosis, last year. In only six short weeks, the disease claimed her life on her 15th birthday.
"Histio Warriors," a documentary inspired by Molly and made by her cousin, Melissa Berger, will be screened at 9 a.m. Saturday in the Screening Room (4524 Bailey Ave.) as part of the Buffalo International Film Festival. The sixth annual festival continues today through Sunday with movies and events in the Screening Room Cinema Cafe and the Historic Lockport Palace Theatre (2 East Ave., Lockport), as well as Casa de Arte (141 Elmwood Ave.).
Berger, a Buffalo native who now lives in Los Angeles, is a graduate of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and has worked in the entertainment industry for 20 years. She will be on hand Saturday to introduce "Histio Warriors," the term given to those in the medical profession who fight this disease. The film, Berger's feature-length documentary debut, features some of the medical staff who treated Molly at Women & Children's Hospital, plus doctors and specialists from across the country, and other families who have dealt with the deadly disease.
"The purpose of this documentary film about histiocytosis is to educate the public and the medical community about this little-known disease so that more lives can be saved," Berger wrote via email.
"Only through early diagnosis can this happen, that is why it is so important to promote histiocytosis awareness, as many children are often diagnosed too late."
To that point, "100 percent of money made selling this film will go toward histiocytosis research and awareness," she said. "If this film can help other families find resources to aid them in their fight with this disease, then I will have honored my 14-year-old cousin Molly Berger," Berger wrote.
Tickets are $15 adults, $7 seniors and $5 children. Visit http://histiowarriors.mixform.com.
Other films showing in the Screening Room as part of the festival include:
."Made in Buffalo," a showcase of short films and featurettes made in Western New York, from 2 to 6:15 p.m. today;
."Alive Inside," a documentary about the work of Oliver Sacks trying to reach patients with Alzheimer's through music, 7 tonight;
.Director Betty Yu's "Last Call at the Oasis," a look at the world water crisis, 9 tonight;
."21 Soldiers," a Kingston, Ont.-made drama about a World War I unit going into battle, noon Saturday;
."The Ackermonster Chronicles," a new version of the documentary about Forrest J. Ackerman, founder of "Famous Monsters" magazine, at 4 p.m. Saturday (filmmakers Jason and Sunni Brock will attend);
."Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan," 7 p.m. Saturday;
.A filmmaking workshop, 4 p.m. Sunday;
.The closing film, "Starry Starry Night" from director Tom Lin, 7 p.m. Sunday followed by a closing night party and Audience Awards.
Also at the festival: a showing of the restored 35 mm print of Hayao Miyazaki's animated masterpiece, "My Neighbor Totoro" at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in the Lockport Palace and free Spanish-language films shown as part of the "Cantinflas Centennial Celebration" at 7 tonight, Saturday and Sunday in Casa de Arte.