SIFF Film Highlights: ‘The Birth of San Eliseo’ & ‘The Power of Two’ - October 20, 2011

"Many people with cystic fibrosis die while waiting in vain for new organs..."

In the days leading to the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival (Oct. 19-23), festival co-founder and guest blogger David Moore offers observation and insight into his favorite films.

"The Birth of San Eliseo"
I’ll try to do some more research but as of this moment, I don’t know for sure if there was or is a Saint Eliseo, but it wouldn’t surprise me one way, or the other. In any event,  “The Birth of San Eliseo” is a solid short western with a miraculous twist. I don’t want to give it away, but just imagine what it would take to make a saint in the southwest 130 years ago. All I have to say is that I personally really enjoyed this little short. It's got all the elements of a classic western--tragedy, redemption, a beautiful saloon girl, six-guns and one nasty villain.


“The Power of Two” is a powerful feature documentary about a pair of Japanese-American twins with cystic fibrosis, Anabel and Isabel Stenzel, who survive together in harmony while living rich and deeply meaningful lives. These two women exhibit the power of the human spirit to overcome adversity, persevere and survive while simultaneously striving to improve the world around them by raising awareness about CF at home and abroad.

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic, degenerative lung condition, the only cure for which is a lung transplant. Many people with CF die while waiting in vain for new organs. Especially in Japan where age-old, traditional taboos make the pool of available organ donors extremely small and consequently leaves Japanese CF patients with a very slim chances of survival.

The courageous twin sisters travel to Japan to speak publicly about their condition and, most importantly, how organ donation has allowed them to survive and even flourish against all odds. They respond with passion and eloquence to the questions posed to them by their Japanese interviewers in Japanese, which further validates their message to an audience culturally indoctrinated to reject it.

Directed by Marc Smolowitz and based on a 2007 memoir of the sisters Stenzel "The Power of Two" provides an extremely intimate and moving insight into the lives of CF patients under the best and worst of circumstances. This film is deeply moving, but also very intense.