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Perfect Strangers    cover image

Perfect Strangers 2013

Highly Recommended

Distributed by Jan Krawitz, Department of Art & Art History, 355 Roth Way, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-2018; 650-723-0704
Produced by Jan Krawitz
Directed by Jan Krawitz
DVD , color, 69 min.

High School - General Adult
Health Services, Rehabilitation, Kidney Transplant, Organ Donor

Date Entered: 12/01/2015

Reviewed by Sue F. Phelps, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA

Jan Krawitz adds one more film to her list of award winning documentaries, Mirror Mirror (1990), In Harm’s Way (1996), Little People (1984), and Drive-in Blues (1986), which were all broadcast on national PBS. Perfect Strangers has already caught the attention of the film community with three awards to date.

“One gently used kidney – free to good home”, is the banner of the official website for Perfect Strangers and captures the altruistic spirit of Ellie the massage therapist who takes an interest in kidney disease and begins to a search for someone who needs a kidney - one of her kidneys. Through many twists and turns the audience learns with Ellie about the process of dialysis, the risks of kidney transplant and the many people who are waiting for a kidney verses the number of donors. The series of interviews that comprise this documentary allows for a very personal look into the lives of Ellie, and her family and friends in tandem with Kathy, a woman who is waiting for a kidney and endures 5 hours of dialysis every day.

The interviews are interspersed with facts regarding kidney disease, the large number of people waiting for transplants and the relatively small number of donors. These facts bring a hard reality to the story line of altruism and the generosity of the main character. The filming of Ellie at talking to her clients as she is at work as a massage therapist, her visits to the transplant team and the stream of conscious narration give voice to the many issues of organ donation. Krawitz gives the viewer high quality audio and video with an intimate feel that merges professionalism and familiarity. She presents Ellie as an everyday hero offering the prospect of organ donation in as a realistic and openhanded gift.

Public libraries, high school libraries and academic libraries that support programs in psychology, health and human services would find this a worthy addition to their collection.


  • Audience Award, Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival, 2014
  • Best Feature Documentary, Docufest, 2014
  • Audience Award, San Luis Obispo International Film Festival, 2014