December 2, 2012, 3:00 P.M.

The Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108, George Lucas Building, USC School of Cinematic Arts, 900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007


Outside the Box [Office], Urban Landscapes Productions, EMERGENCY USA, and USC Office of Religious Life invite you and a guest to a special preview screening of

Open Heart

Directed/Produced by Kief Davidson
Produced by Cori Shepherd Stern
Followed by a Q&A with Kief Davidson, moderated by Anna Gilmore, Emergency USA

3:00 P.M. on Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

The Ray Stark Family Theatre
, SCA 108
900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007


About Open Heart

Open Heart is the story of eight Rwandan children who leave their families behind and embark on a life-or-death journey to receive high-risk open-heart surgery in Africa’s only free-of-charge, state-of-the-art cardiac hospital, the Salam Center run by Emergency, an Italian NGO. Their heart valves, damaged and weakened by rheumatic heart disease, which develops from untreated childhood strep throat, leave them lethargic and weak. Some of the children have only months to live.

During their cross-continental journey, Open Heart reveals the intertwined endeavors of Dr. Emmanuel Rusingiza, Rwanda’s lone, overworked public cardiologist, and Dr. Gino Strada, the Salam Center’s head surgeon. As one of Emergency’s founders, he must fight not just for the children’s lives but for the tenuous financial future of the hospital.

While heart disease is often associated with the excesses of Western nations, severe cardiac diseases requiring surgery are extremely prevalent in resource-poor Sub-Saharan Africa.

Because medical treatment is often unavailable, minor maladies like strep throat are often left untreated, and lead to a host of complications, including rheumatic fever, which – especially in young children and teenagers – can permanently damage the heart valves. Children with the weakened valves show symptoms of fatigue, fever, bloody coughing and trouble sleeping. They quickly become weaker as their valve tissue deteriorates, and open-heart surgery – while invasive, dangerous, and prohibitively expensive – quickly becomes the only option to repair or replace the damaged valves and save the children’s lives.

There are an estimated 18 million people afflicted with rheumatic heart disease and in need of urgent surgery, almost two thirds of them children, and the disease kills 300,000 people per year. Despite those facts, the Salam Center remains the only facility in Africa capable of such high-standard cardiac surgery, free of charge.

At once a marvel of modern medical engineering and the triumph of an idea, Salam is key in Emergency’s plan to treat and reduce heart diseases in an area three times the size of Europe and home to 300 million people. Building a world-class, technologically advanced cardiac diagnostics and surgery facility in the middle of a desert in Northern Sudan is an impressive feat on its own. Making its services free (including lifelong regimens of prescription drugs and follow-up visits) to anyone who steps through its doors is just shy of revolutionary.

The idea that “the Right to be Cured” should be accessible and free of charge to every member of the “human community,” is part of Emergency’s operating ethos. To accomplish that, the Center serves as a hub for the program for pediatrics and cardiac surgery that Emergency is implementing throughout its own medical facilities and local hospitals across Africa.

Provided courtesy of Urban Landscapes Productions. Not rated. Running time: 40 minutes.

To learn more about the film and to view the trailer, visit

To visit the Official Facebook page, click here


About the Guest

KIEF DAVIDSON (Director, Producer)

Urban Landscapes was founded by award winning documentary and commercials director Kief Davidson.

Kief recently completed OPEN HEART, which took him and a small crew to the heart of Rwanda and Sudan. They followed eight children on a perilous journey to get high-risk surgery at Africa’s only high-tech, free-of-charge heart surgery hospital. He is concurrently filming a companion film about Dr. Paul Farmer and his organization Partners In Health, executive produced by Matt Damon and Damon Lindelof in collaboration with the Sundance Institute, Skoll Foundation and Tribeca Gucci.

He’s had international success from the award-winning feature-length documentaries, Kassim the Dream and The Devil’s Miner.

Kassim the Dream, about a former child soldier turned boxing champion of the World, premiered at the Tribeca film festival and won over a dozen international film festivals, including AFI, IDFA and Silver Docs. A co-production with ARTE Germany/France, the film was theatrically released by IFC Films.

Kief’s first feature, The Devil’s Miner, made its world premiere at the Rotterdam Film Festival and won over 15 awards at international film festivals including Tribeca, Hot Docs, Chicago and Woodstock. The Devil’s Miner sold to over 45 countries and screened theatrically in over 300 cinemas across Europe and the USA.

He began his filmmaking career as editor on the Academy Award-nominated documentary, Blood Ties: The Life and Work of Sally Mann. He is the recipient of two Emmy nominations for his editing work with National Geographic and earned the International Monitor Award for Best Editing on the journalistic film, What’s News?. He then went on to direct and produce documentaries for The Discovery Channel, ABC News, PBS, ARTE and A&E.

He is represented by Believe Media for commercials, with work including projects for American Express, Absolut, Conde Naste, Kohl’s, Secret, GE and Cadillac.

Kief is a member of the Director’s Guild of America and is based in Los Angeles, California.


There is an urgent need to relieve human suffering caused by wars. We believe that healing wounds heals communities devastated by wars. In today’s conflicts 90 percent of the victims are civilians, of which 1/3 are children. Every year war takes the lives of millions of unarmed people worldwide.

EMERGENCY USA raises awareness and funds to provide permanent infrastructure for medical care and rehabilitation efforts for victims of war and poverty.

The programs we support provide free-of-charge, high-standard medical and surgical care in war-torn areas. All facilities are designed, built and managed by the Italian NGO EMERGENCY. The specialized international staff is committed to training local medical personnel.

Visit the website at:

About Outside the Box [Office]

Outside the Box [Office] is a weekly showcase for upcoming releases highlighting world cinema, documentary and independent film titles. Recognizing a need for greater diversity on campus, the series will draw from around the globe to present movies that may challenge, inspire or simply entertain. The weekly screenings will be on Wednesday and Sunday nights (and other select dates, as they arise) in the School of Cinematic Arts Complex, George Lucas Building.

To view the calendar of screenings, click here.

Check-In & Reservations

This screening is free of charge and open to the general public. Please bring a photo ID or print out of your reservation confirmation, which will automatically be sent to your e-mail account upon successfully making an RSVP through this website. Doors will open at 2:30 P.M.


The USC School of Cinematic Arts is located at 900 W. 34th St., Los Angeles, CA 90007. Parking passes may be purchased for $10.00 at USC Entrance Gate #5, located at the intersection of W. Jefferson Blvd. & McClintock Avenue. We recommend parking in outdoor Lot M or V, or Parking Structure D, at the far end of 34th Street. Please note that Parking Structure D cannot accommodate tall vehicles such as SUVs. Metered street parking is also available along Jefferson Blvd.

Contact Information

Name: Alessandro Ago