Lines that Divide Film Highlights Stem Cell Research Issues

Screening of new film, produced by Cinema and Media Arts Chair, held at Biola

Dec. 2, 2009 By Jenna Bartlo

The debate over stem cell research has divided Christians and non-Christians alike in recent years, raising serious ethical questions about what constitutes life. In Lines that Divide, a new film produced by Biola professor Jack Hafer, viewers get a chance to explore both sides of the issue - examining both the benefits and consequences of conducting embryonic stem cell research.

In November, Biola held a screening and discussion of the film. Following the film, Scott Rae, chair of the Department of Philosophy of Religion and Ethics, moderated a discussion with panelists Brian Godawa, the film’s director, and Jennifer Lahl, founder and national director of The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network (CBC).

Lahl said she was concerned with the growing support for stem cell research and felt a need to have a film that would educate people on the issue. She pursued Hafer and Godawa to work on the film since they were reputable figures in the film industry and would know how to present the information in a provocative way, she said.

“I have been involved in trying to make a series of documentaries on the culture war issues, and this stem cell project fit right in,” said Hafer, chair of the Cinema and Media Arts department.

The documentary-like film features interviews with doctors and experts, as well as stories from people who have been associated with the issue of stem cell research.

It also gives an overview of the scientific process of embryonic stem cell research, which involves taking a piece of the embryo to form new cells, resulting in the destruction of the embryo.

The film also addresses the consequences of the research, showing how some women have been affected after they have donated embryos. For instance, the film mentions donors who were prescribed medication that resulted in paralysis or cancer.

Lahl said that people have left the screenings with a new outlook on the issue.

“People had no clue about what’s involved in the process [of stem cell research],” said Lahl. “It’s a real wake-up call after they see the film.”

The film was shown three times in Washington, D.C., and will continue to be shown throughout the United States. The latest showing was at UC Berkley on Nov. 17.

The CBC is a non-profit organization focusing on educating the public about the impact of biotechnology. Their research efforts and projects hope to place a cultural conscience in science and medicine that protects human dignity. A DVD can be purchased online and clips of the movie can be viewed to help continue projects that will be a resource for people who have questions about ethics and the progress of science.

Written by Jennifer Thach, Media Relations Intern. Jenna Bartlo, Media Relations Coordinator, can be reached at (562) 777-4061 or through email at jenna.l.bartlo@biola.edu       

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