Pulitzer Prize Winner to Show Film on Conquering Cancer at Kent State

Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer John Kaplan will show his new 54-minute feature length film chronicling his cancer journey at 7 p.m. Monday, April 4, in the FirstEnergy Auditorium in Franklin Hall, home of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. The screening is free and open to the public.

Now more than one year into remission and back to health, Kaplan’s goal for the “Not As I Pictured” film is to get thousands of free copies in the hands of any patients, survivors and caregivers who would desire one, says Kaplan.

John Kaplan in action at a speaking engagement
John Kaplan in action at a speaking engagement

Diagnosed at age 48 with a potentially deadly form of lymphoma, Kaplan “turned the lens on himself” and chronicled his experience in this moving visual journal. An educational kit produced in collaboration with the American Society of Clinical Oncology accompanies the DVD, addressing the emotional side of cancer with coping and lifestyle tips for patients, caregivers and survivors.

Kaplan, a University of Florida professor of journalism, husband and father of two young children, says, “The film uses anything but the typical melancholy, clichéd approach toward cancer stories. “Not As I Pictured” is upbeat and life affirming.”

With help from his family, doctors, and even Mother Teresa and a rock star, Kaplanshares the same boundless determination and powerful storytelling ability that helped him become one of America’s best-known photojournalists. Although the topic is serious, the film is positive and ends with the news of “complete remission” and Kaplan’s return to good health.

“During my treatment, we received so much unexpected help along the way, often from strangers,” he says. “By giving away the film, I’m determined to give some of that back.”

One in three Americans will get cancer, touching nearly every family in the nation. Many cancers today are beginning to be looked at as chronic illnesses, rather than death sentences as in years gone by. Kaplan’s cancer diagnosis forever changed his outlook. “Your priorities become crystal-clear, immediately. The veneer is stripped away. I just want to be alive to see my kids grow up.”

“Not As I Pictured” has won national acclaim, with more than 20 film honors, including two prestigious CINE Golden Eagle Awards and several Best Documentary film festival accolades.

Many well-known musicians donated musical rights for the film soundtrack, including Michael Stipe and R.E.M., Chris Martin of Coldplay, David Bowie, will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas, Justin Timberlake, Pantera and the Cowboy Junkies. Their contributions helped the film win Best Soundtrack at the 2010 Maverick Movie Awards, and the ADDY Best of Show for Public Service.

The impact of Kaplan’s film among patients, caregivers, and the medical community is evidenced by posts at the “Not As I Pictured” Facebook page. Kathy, whose husband is in treatment, shares, and “I was greatly moved. It would have touched me before, but now that we are dealing with a diagnosis of aggressive illness in my husband, it means far more. I am in awe of your film.”

Kaplan’s leading honors include the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography in 1992. He is also a winner of the Overseas Press Club Award and national Photographer of the Year (POY) honors.

For additional information, contact Jennifer Kramer at jlkramer@kent.edu.

Posted March 28, 2011

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