Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Local documentary focuses on mitochondrial disease

Mito-Kids currently in production, fundraising

Marc Dole, owner and founder of the award-winning Hatchling Studios--an animation company based in Portsmouth, NH--is the father of four teenage girls who have grown up with disabilities that stem from mitochondrial disease, a chronic, genetic disorder that occurs when cell mitochondria fail to function properly. Marc's children face challenges that include seizures, deafness, diabetes, immune disorders and severe learning and developmental disabilities. Marc and his family are currently in production of their documentary, Mito-Kids, which is already proving to be an inspirational and relatable film about a family adapting to their constantly changing challenges.

As a father and a filmmaker, Marc has shot close to 100 hours of home video beginning with the birth of his first daughter 19 years ago, up to doctor exams and surgeries earlier this month. Their story begins in a time before their mitochondrial conditions received proper diagnosis. Footage includes everything from holidays and family vacations to seizures and hospital stays. This video family history enables us to produce a personal and intimate film about growing up with mitochondrial disease. To compliment the family footage, interviews with medical experts and original animation will break down the role of mitochondria in producing cellular energy and explain what happens to the human body when these cellular powerhouses fail.

The incidence of mitochondrial disease is estimated at 1:3000-4000 individuals in the US and yet the disease is relatively unheard of in the public sector and poorly understood in the medical community. Only now is awareness growing as research has shown that mitochondrial disease can be the root disorder behind epilepsy, ALS, Parkinson's, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and many other neurological disorders.

Mito-Kids is a unique film that balances personal testimony and scientific fact. We believe that this project will inspire dialogue within the public and medical communities toward the ultimate goal of motivating additional scientific research.

"Mito-Kids: Introduction" is a short version of a 90 minute documentary that is in production with a scheduled October 2009 release date. This short documentary will serve as a tool for raising awareness of Mitochondrial Disease and the feature documentary. The short will also be used to raise funds for the feature. The short version of Mito-Kids will be an introduction to the Dole family and their personal efforts to understand mitochondrial disease. We will follow them through the frustrations of misdiagnosis in 1994 to finding acceptance and making it their personal mission to make others aware of the "disease behind the disease." They have already received an intent-to-broadcast letter from New Hampshire Public Television, and the New Hampshire ABC affiliate, WMUR-TV 9 has aired the first of four planned behind-the-scenes news pieces about the project.

The short documentary will be submitted to the Cannes Film Festival's Short Film Corner, where Producer Marc Dole has had success with distribution and sales offers for his other films.

More information about the film and upcoming fundraisers for the project can be found at www.mito-kids.com.