Thursday, November 29, 2007

Dallas, Texas: Standing Room Only!

Over the past few months, Absolutely Safe has been on a screening tour around the country. Director Carol Ciancutti-Leyva was invited to the University of Buffalo, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Connecticut, the University of Texas, Dallas, and Dallas Women in Film to speak about and screen Absolutely Safe.

All of the screenings have sparked interesting discussions and questions, illustrating that most people do not know that breast implants are a controversial product that carry health risks--risks that even the FDA and implant manufacturers acknowledge.

In Dallas, two characters from Absolutely Safe participated in panel discussions at the Dallas Women in Film screening and the University of Texas, Dallas screening—Wendi Myers and Dr. Edward Melmed. Wendi explained her experiences and health problems with implants and her decision to have an “explant.” Her doctor, Dr. Melmed, explained his experiences with implant complications and why he no longer puts implants into women’s bodies. Dr. Melmed now only takes implants out of women’s bodies.

At the University of Texas, Dallas, there was standing room only in the theater. Students, both young men and women, filled the space and peppered the panelists with one question after another. Professor Erin Smith, Associate Director of the Gender Studies Program summarized the event:

“Our screening and panel discussion of ABSOLUTELY SAFE was the best attended gender-related programming we’ve had in the history of the University of Texas at Dallas. Our students loved this program. ABSOLUTELY SAFE explained the science behind the controversy over the safety of breast implants, but put a human face on all those statistics and research. The white-coated doctors and scientists in the film made their points, but students also went along on the journeys of two women—one getting breast implants and one getting her ruptured implants removed. This film engaged our students, who had over an hour of questions and comments after the screening. They left the program (in their own words) “enlightened,” “angry,” “disgusted,” “appalled,” and--above all—wanting to talk some more about women’s health, ideals of beauty, and the health risks of implants. And they did—to their roommates, their girlfriends, their mothers, and their friends, among others. This is just an amazing, powerful film for engaging students with issues of gender, power, and health policy. “

--Erin Smith
Associate Director, Gender Studies Program, University of Texas, Dallas