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Poster for Confessions of a Good Samaritan

Confessions of a Good Samaritan

Opens on April 28

Director: Penny Lane Run Time: 105 min. Release Year: 2023

Starring: Penny Lane

Director Penny Lane in Attendance

Director Penny Lane’s decision to become a “Good Samaritan” by giving one of her kidneys to a stranger—someone she’s never met, and never will meet—launches her on a provocative, intimate, and unexpectedly funny quest to understand the nature of altruism.

CONFESSIONS OF A GOOD SAMARITAN is a provocative inquiry into the science, history, and ethics of organ transplantation, asking an ancient question in a whole new way: who is your neighbor, and what do you owe them? We’ve all heard versions of this question, but how often do we really stop to think about its meaning?

“Good Samaritan” kidney donation is a term used to describe the exceptionally rare circumstance in which a person is moved to donate a kidney, not to a friend or a loved one, but to an unknown stranger. The small number of people per year who make this choice often describe it as a “no-brainer”: I could have a relatively low-risk procedure, and save someone’s life? Obviously! With more than 100,000 people in need of a kidney, slowly dying on dialysis, for the Good Samaritan donors, the only question is, “Why isn’t there a line of people out the door waiting to give a kidney?”

But, for the vast majority of people, making a “Good Samaritan” donation is incomprehensible, or suspicious in some way. Why do they do it? Do these people just want attention? What are they compensating for? This mystery is what sets Penny off on her quest to understand the science of altruism, the ethical controversies surrounding organ donation, and her own motivations.

Along the way she collects a library of rare, often strange, archival films documenting the history of organ transplantation. Accompanied by a quirky cast of charismatic scientists, surgeons, ethicists, and other donors, Penny documents her experience through “confessional” diaries and intimate footage of her own surgery and recovery. All of these elements are assembled into a fast-paced, funny, personal and philosophical collage.

In English and Dutch with English subtitles

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