Roswell Park Staff Contribute Footage For Ridley Scott’s Life in a Day

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Unprecedented Documentary Compilation to Debut at Sundance Film Festival Thursday

BUFFALO, NY — “Every day, 6.7 billion people view the world through their own unique lens,” read the text of the ad on YouTube. “Imagine if there was a way to collect all of these perspectives, to aggregate and mold them into the cohesive story of a single day on earth.”

That call to contribute documentary footage for YouTube’s unprecedented film project, Life in a Day, caught the eye of Ben Richey, Director of Creative Services at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI). Richey immediately recognized the opportunity to help a global audience see life through the unique lens of a person battling cancer.

Footage that Richey and RPCI Staff Photographer Bill Sheff submitted for the Life in a Day contest will be featured in the final film, directed by Oscar-winning director Kevin Macdonald, with Ridley Scott serving as executive producer. The film, compiled out of more than 80,000 individual clips from filmmakers in 192 countries, premieres Jan. 27 in Park City, Utah, as part of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. The final product was honed from more than 4,500 hours of footage, all documenting things that occurred on a single day.

“The thought was, let’s make a film that’s a snapshot of what the world was like on July 24, 2010,” Richey explains. “We loved the project and wanted to get involved from the get-go. So Bill and I came back to work that Friday at midnight. We talked to a couple who were at Roswell that day — the husband was here being treated for leukemia — and they said they’d love to be a part of the project and to have us document this experience for them.”

Sheff and Richey filmed a 90-minute interview with the couple, Jessica and Clayton “Fudd” Rutan, who was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in June 2007. “I asked them a lot of hard questions — what his diagnosis has done to their family, what he’s most afraid of,” Richey says. “They told me, ‘This is our normal now.’ Everybody in the room cried.”

Jessica Rutan said she and her husband agreed to be interviewed on camera because they wanted to have a record of Fudd’s battle with AML — “a little time capsule for our family” —to share with their children, ages 7 and 12. “I wanted them to see us talking about the struggle,” says the Willet, NY resident. “It wasn’t really for right now. Someday, hopefully, when this is all behind us, they’ll forget all the stuff we went through. So it was really for years down the road.”

Audiences all over the world — not just in Park City — will see the film for the first time when it’s broadcast live from Sundance at 8 p.m. EST on Thursday, Jan. 27 at http://www.youtube.com/user/lifeinaday.

“We couldn’t be more excited to know that our footage will be part of Kevin’s film,” says Richey. “We were so happy just to learn that we’d made it to the final 100 hours of footage, so to have made the final cut is just incredible.”

The mission of Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) is to understand, prevent and cure cancer. RPCI, founded in 1898, was one of the first cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and remains the only facility with this designation in Upstate New York. The Institute is a member of the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers; maintains affiliate sites; and is a partner in national and international collaborative programs. For more information, visit RPCI’s website at http://www.roswellpark.org, call 1-877-ASK-RPCI (1-877-275-7724) or email askrpci@roswellpark.org.

Media Contact: 

Annie Deck-Miller, Senior Media Relations Manager
716-845-8593; annie.deck-miller@roswellpark.org