The Kindness of Strangers

Director: Maro Chermayeff

Institute History

  • 1999 Sundance Film Festival


With a passion, skill, and wisdom that is a credit to her as a filmmaker, Maro Chermayeff offers us an intimate portrait of the world of organ donation and transplantation. Too often the human story behind this complicated but life-saving procedure is obscured by legal, ethical, or technical issues that end up ignoring the often-dramatic stories behind these
so-called miracles.
Following the lives of four transplant patients and two donor families, the filmmakers interweave real-life medical dramas that pose questions about the rights of transplant patients, the complex problems that desperate institutions and recipients face in their quest for an organ, and the multitude of factors that have to come together to save their lives.
The Kindness of Strangers is fueled by a personal awareness of the difficulties that those in need face and the antiquated prejudices and/or beliefs that have resulted in a process almost like a lottery to determine who lives and who dies. In this beautifully told inquiry, both the personal and human aspects of this tragic situation are illuminated and explored.
With a sensitivity that makes its appeal without excess or overstatement, The Kindness of Strangers is determined to help rectify what is presently an untenable state of affairs. This is issue-oriented filmmaking that is both edifying and emotionally potent, an urgent call to
confront a subject and its taboos that could ultimately save lives.

Maro Chermayeff, Director
Maro Chermayeff has produced and directed documentary films for the Learning Channel, Charlie Rose, and PBS. She has also been an editor on numerous documentaries, features, and shorts for network, public, and cable television, including Jim Dine: A Self-Portrait on the Walls, The Choice ‘96, The Women Outside, Barnum, and Family Remains. Film awards include an Academy Award nomination, Emmy and Peabody awards, and numerous festival awards. The Kindness of Strangers is her first independent feature documentary.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]