Documentary About Former Four Diamonds Child To Air At Centre Film Festival November 5

The Centre Film Festival will screen “Of Medicine and Miracles,” a documentary that tells the story of Four Diamonds child Emily Whitehead on Saturday, November 5. The film will run from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Rowland Theatre in Philipsburg.

The film takes a look at Philipsburg native Whitehead, the team at Penn Medicine, and the team at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia that made history with the development of CAR T-cell therapy.

Whitehead was just five-years-old when she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in May 2010. Her treatment began at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital in Hershey, but when her leukemia progressively became more difficult to treat, she was transferred to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Courtesy of the Emily Whitehead Foundation

When she moved hospitals, she was enrolled in a clinical trial and became the first pediatric patient in the world to receive CAR T-cell therapy. Whitehead is now 10 years cancer free and a senior in high school.

“Of Medicine and Miracles,” premiered in June 2022 at the Tribeca Festival and has since won five awards at various film festivals across the country. The documentary was directed by Academy-Award winner, Ross Kauffman, and produced by Academy-Award-winning nominee, Robin Honan. 

In 2015, the Whitehead family started the “Emily Whitehead Foundation” in an effort to provide funding to researchers and support patients and families battling childhood cancer.

Courtesy of the Emily Whitehead Foundation

The Centre Film Festival will honor Tom and Kari Whitehead, Emily’s parents, as winners of the Centre Film Festival Chandler Living Legacy Award. This award is presented to a Pennsylvania native or Penn State alumni who have made outstanding contributions to the film, television, and media arts to social justice movements.

“One of the reasons we made the film, is that the footage is so striking,” Kaufman told the Centre Film Festival. “For me, the footage captures a form of faith, to have the belief that this is the right thing to do, and this is the right direction to go. In the midst of all the pain, they both picked up a camera. When we watched it, it felt so visceral, it felt like love. In a way, it is an archive of footage celebrating joy in the face of such difficulty.”

The film is free for all students and $8 for other attendees. Shuttle buses will be running from State College to Philipsburg ahead of its playing.

You can check out some of the other films that will be aired as part of the Centre Film Festival here.

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About the Author

Emily Grill

Emily is a third-year broadcast journalism student from New Jersey. She likes to think that being Italian and 5 feet tall are her biggest personality traits. You can probably catch her at Chick-fil-A at least two or three days out of the week. Feel free to contact her by emailing [email protected].

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