In Hold Your Breath, the tragic consequences of cultural miscommunication unfold in a dramatic race against death. Directed by award-winning filmmaker and physician Maren Grainger-Monsen, this haunting documentary exposes the poignant clash between ancient Islamic traditions and contemporary medical technology through intimate moments of anguish, frustration and hope.
After fleeing Afghanistan in 1979, Mohammad Kochi settled in Fremont, California and raised his family. Just when life seems to be getting easier for Kochi, he is diagnosed with an aggressive, life-threatening cancer. When Mr. Kochi rejects chemotherapy and instead embarks on a pilgrimage to Mecca, his doctor fears that family members acting as interpreters have misinformed Kochi about the gravity of his disease. Meanwhile, Kochi’s daughter, Noorzia, blames a culturally insensitive health care system for her father’s rapidly declining health. Can this deeply religious Muslim immigrant and his Western medical doctor find a common language in time to save his life?
Maren Grainger-Monsen uses striking imagery and compelling characters to make films that address important issues in contemporary medicine. Her past work includes The Vanishing Line, Worlds Apart and Where the Highway Ends, which have been broadcast nationally on PBS and won numerous awards. She is filmmaker-in-residence at the Stanford University Center for Biomedical Ethics.