Press Release  

The Tale of a Movie, Part 1
From Zero to Distribution

(March 2002, Ojai, CA) Jane Cusumano reached out to many people. Yet amazingly, since her death she is touching the hearts of thousands more. This is the true story of her legacy and how her adoring husband is making her life-long dream and dying wishes come true.

Born Jane Melvin in Palo Alto, California, her amazing talents were reflected through her art, her music and her writing throughout her life. From playing Rachmaninoff in concert at the age of nine to her renowned oil paintings of famous racehorses to her restoration of a classic Wallace Neff mansion, Jane never ceased to amaze and touch those around her. A devoted mother and wife, she created beautiful gardens, volunteered in her community, created sumptuous meals for her family and raised her daughter and step-daughter while often postponing her own dreams.

Jane supported her husband, Jim, as he took Catalytica from a simple idea, to a successful public company. When Jane and Jim decided to leave Silicon Valley for a more soulful, quieter location, they found a welcoming community in the Ojai Valley. By this time Jane had already written three screenplays. With the capital from the sale of Jim's company as backing, she had the opportunity to finally bring her dream of being a filmmaker to fruition.

Shortly after moving to Ojai, Jane was diagnosed with breast cancer and began chemotherapy and radiation treatments. After completing her first round of chemo, she flew to New York to watch her daughter, Polly, graduate from Vassar with a degree in theater arts. Upon her arrival, her hair fell out. But, being the resourceful, dedicated mom that she was, she refused to let anything take the spotlight away from Polly's accomplishment, and donned a just-in-case wig she had purchased for the trip.

In 2000, the stage was set to begin production of "What Matters Most"-- the location scouted, the cast and crew hired, and the equipment rented. She remarked to her sister-in-law that September 18, the day before she was due to go on location in Vega, Texas was the happiest day of her life. The following day she found out that her breast cancer metastasized. She would need treatment again.

Most people would have quit at this point. The thought of undergoing chemotherapy is taxing enough, requiring a commitment of mind, body and soul. Yet Jane's purpose, to communicate with a larger audience about the meaning of life, about being true to oneself, about finding happiness while dancing in the headlights of an old pick-up, buoyed her to go forward with the movie.

Throughout pre-production, filming, and post-production Jane underwent treatment. She grew sicker and sicker. Those on the set didn't know the pain she endured. She gave each of them an inspiring tour of the part of her soul revealed through each character. And they gave back through the parts they played on film.

Towards the end, Jane would lie on a couch, unable to get up, editing and re-editing, pouring what little strength she had into the movie.

The irony of making a movie called "What Matters Most" as she fought for her life did not escape Jane. It was that cosmic point in time when everything she worked for - putting her daughter through college (Polly stars in the film), supporting Jim through the ups and downs of business, writing this screenplay, studying human nature - all came into play like the instruments in an orchestra falling into harmony.

Three weeks after post-production Jane succumbed to breast cancer. As she lay dying in the hospital, Jim asked if she had any final wishes. In true Jane form, she wished the profits from her movie be used to help other women fight breast cancer, to fund aspiring filmmakers to finish their films, and to support those in need in Ojai, the community that nourished her creativity.

Bringing Jane's dream to fruition has been Jim's mission. After her death, Jim took "What Matters Most" on a seven-city tour across the U.S. from L.A. to D.C. with stops in Ojai, Vega, Chicago, Dallas, New York and San Francisco. The proceeds from these benefit screenings have gone to breast cancer organizations and women's filmmaker groups. The Breast Cancer Fund, SAG Foundation's Catastrophic Health Fund, George Washington University Breast Care Center and Women In Film- Los Angeles are a few of the groups who have benefited from Janes' legacy.

But here is the amazing thing: The film has lit a fire in the movie community. It has been invited to eight film festivals, returning home with several awards including: Audience Award for Best Feature Film at WinFemme, Best Cinematograpy (Michael Goi) and Flash Forward Award (Polly Cusumano) at the Portland Festival of World Cinema and Best Director (Jane Cusumano) at the Manhattan Global Film Festival. No one can believe that it's an independent film. It's wonderful. It's touching without the schmaltz. It's real and down to earth without being tacky. Personally I don't understand how someone can go from never making a movie to making this movie. It seems impossible. It seems unlikely. It seems divine.

At this point the battle is Jim's. He can't continue renting theaters, one by one, and showing Jane's movie. That's the work of a movie distributor. So he is exploring distribution options. He's learned that some companies fit the vision and others do not.

Jim and Polly are carrying Jane's torch. They wanted to let all of us know about the process they are going through. So we can create the consciousness necessary to vault the distribution obstacle.

The breast cancer community will be the beneficiaries of this movie, in more ways than one. We will be touched by Jane's vision as we watch the film. We will be financially supported as profits roll in. Let's support Jim by thinking positive thoughts and awaiting the news of a great distribution contract.

For more information please contact :

Jim Cusumano,
President and CEO

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