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The Independent Critic

Dr. Thomas Starzl, David Crosby, Larry Kramer, David McCullough, James Redford
Tjardus Greidanus
89 Mins.

 "Burden of Genius" Screening as Official Selection at Heartland 
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Screening as an Official Selection at the 2018 Heartland International Film Festival in Indianapolis, Tjardus Greidanus's Burden of Genius explores the world of groundbreaking physician Dr. Thomas Starzl, who stunned the world in 1967 when he completed the first successful liver transplant. 

What is almost universally regarded now as a miracle beyond miracles was, at the time, regarded with much greater skepticism and controversy as Dr. Starzl's critics accused him of recklessness and, at times, even murder. 

However, some did recognize it as a medical revolution. 

Burden of Genius is, indeed, a film that captures what it was like for Dr. Starzl to be burdened by the kind of genius that makes you take life and career-threatening risks in order to create a miracle. In 2016, Dr. Starzl was quoted as saying "When I finished medical school in 1952, the textbooks were full of diseases, the causes of which were not known. So I had a dream list: I wanted to know the cause and find the cure for one disease. And I knew it was dangerous. If you do not make it work, you’re ruined. And there’s a kind of ruination that goes well beyond public ruin. It’s a destruction from inside.”

Burden of Genius captured the Global Health Competition prize at the Cleveland International Film Festival and continues to experience success on the film festival circuit. Greidanus serves up tremendous detail in recounting Dr. Starzl's journey, exploring the inner workings of a man many would come to regard as the greatest surgeon of the 20th century and the father of transplantation. Yet, Greidanus also humanizes Dr. Starzl and portrays the toll that his relentless efforts had on his life as he opened this pandora's box and felt an almost unquenchable obligation to keep building it. Along the way, Dr. Starzl attained an almost mythical status among up-and-coming physicians including those young surgeons who would choose to work tirelessly alongside him and who, to this day, helm most of the transplant centers. 

A more straightforward doc that is both emotionally revealing and intellectually satisfying, Burden of Genius is screening three times during the Heartland International Film Festival:

  • Oct. 15th @ 7:30pm at The Toby at Newfields
  • Oct. 19th @ 10:45am at AMC Castleton Square 14
  • Oct. 20th @ 10:15 am at AMC Showplace Traders Point 12

For ticket information, visit the Heartland Film Festival website. 

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic