Mary-Claire King and Annie Parker. These are two women we didn’t know about until last week. But when we heard their stories, we were dumbstruck that neither of them are household names, especially to those of us with breasts and ovaries. That’s why we want to thank Steven Bernstein and his long time friend Clark Peterson for making a feature film about these truly extraordinary and inspiring women. It’s called Decoding Annie Parker and we cannot wait to see it.
Intended to entertain, inform and educate, Decoding Annie Parker tells the remarkable true stories of two women linked together in what became one of the greatest scientific breakthroughs of the twentieth century – the discovery of the breast cancer gene (later known as BRCA1).
Academy Award-nominee Helen Hunt portrays the brilliant scientist behind the discovery, Mary-Claire King. A pioneer in her field, King and her groundbreaking work changed the face of cancer for good and touched millions of lives – including that of Annie Parker, a sharp witted, funny, irrepressible and brave young woman.
Annie, who we would call a trailblazing cancer warrior and super survivor, is portrayed in the film by Samantha Morton. Before she was diagnosed herself (first with breast cancer, then with stage 3 ovarian cancer, and a third time with cancer in her upper abdomen), and long before the BRCA gene even had a name, Annie had already lost her mother, a cousin and her sister to breast cancer. She was repeatedly assured by medical experts that her family had simply been ‘unlucky’ and that she had no cause for concern. Annie was one of the first women in Canada to be tested and found to be positive for King’s discovery, the BRCA mutation.
These two women are separated by thousands of miles, by circumstance, background and education, and yet, as told in the film, their two lives gradually intertwine until a final, singular and life changing reckoning. Full film synopsis here.
In a first of its kind partnership, the film has aligned with the American Cancer Society and other charitable groups to help tell this extraordinary story. The American Cancer Society has been at the forefront of many significant breakthroughs in the field of cancer research, including funding King early in her career. The Society is honored to help highlight her important achievements in the fight against cancer as part of their yearlong campaign surrounding their 100th birthday.
Decoding Annie Parker had its red carpet premiere this past Tuesday night, April 2nd, in New York City. Next it heads to The Palm Beach International Film Festival and at the Dallas International Film Festival before opening in select theaters nationwide this summer.