In the Family

Joanna Rudnick navigates an uncertain world knowing that she has an 85% lifetime risk of breast cancer and a 60% lifetime risk of ovarian cancer.

Film Signature Image
Premiere Date
October 1, 2008
60 minutes
Funding Initiative
Open Call
  • Nominated laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2009 News and Documentary Emmy Awards-Outstanding Informational Programming
  • Headshot of Joanna Rudnick

    Joanna Rudnick

    Joanna Rudnick is an Emmy-nominated and duPont Award-winning director and producer. Her films have broadcast on PBS, BBC, HBO, ShortsTV, and Al Jazeera America, as well as several other broadcasters around the world. Joanna enjoyed tenures at American Masters and Kartemquin Films. She received an MA in Science, Health & Environmental Journalism Show more from NYU. Show less


    Gordon Quinn

    Artistic Director and founding member of Kartemquin Films, 2007 recipient of the MacArthur award for Creative and Effective Institutions, Gordon Quinn has been making documentaries for more than 40 years. His producing credits include such award-winning and highly acclaimed films as Hoop Dreams; Vietnam, Long Time Coming; Golub; 5 Girls; Refrigerator Mothers; Stevie, Show more for which he won the Cinematography Award at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival; and The New Americans (for which h also directed the Palestinian segment). Most recently, Quinn executive produced Mapping Stem Cell Research: Terra Incognita; At The Death House Door; Milking the Rhino; In the Family; and Typeface, as well as directing a film on delayed posttraumatic stress syndrome, Prisoner of Her Past. Show less

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    The Film

    In the Family follows filmmaker Joanna Rudnick as she navigates the uncertain world of genetic testing. With the knowledge in hand that she has an up to 85 percent lifetime risk of breast cancer and an up to 60 percent lifetime risk of ovarian cancer, she must weigh what measures to take to prevent the disease suffered by generations of women in her family. As she turns 32, she balances dreams of having her own family with the unnerving reality that she is risking her life by holding on to her fertility. Joanna looks to other women who carry the BRCA mutation to help her understand her options for the future. She learns about great strides in prophylactic breast surgery during impromptu “show and tells” and finds a sense of belonging in this new community of women. Along the way, she also explores the legal, ethical, psychological, and social complexities of genetic testing for a disease that has no cure and for which the only proven preventative measures involve removing healthy body parts.