Maren Grainger-Monsen

Maren Grainger-Monsen, a physician and award-winning filmmaker, is currently Filmmaker in Residence and Director of the Program in Bioethics and Film at the Stanford University Center for Biomedical Ethics. She studied film at the London International Film School and received medical training at the University of Washington and Stanford University School of Medicine.

Grainger-Monsen's film, Hold Your Breath, follows the dramatic story of an Afghan refugee family through cultural conflicts over medical treatment. It was broadcast on national PBS beginning in April of 2007. It was featured in a Newsweek magazine special issue on family medicine in an article entitled, "When Cultures Clash," as well as in ABC World News Tonight with the late Peter Jennings, and won the 2007 Wilbur Award from the Religion Communicators Council.

Hold Your Breath developed from Grainger-Monsen's last project, Worlds Apart, a series of award-winning short films on cross-cultural medicine developed for medical education that have met with an overwhelmingly positive reception. The films are being used in over 750 institutions nationally, including 40% of all US medical schools, as well as for internal staff training at important medical accrediting organizations such as JCAHO and the AMA. They have also been instrumental in policy reform, such as playing a role in the UNOS Board of Directors' decision to increase minority access to kidney transplants by revision allocation priority for tissue matching.

Grainger-Monsen's previous work includes The Vanishing Line, a chronicle of her journey toward understanding the art and issues of dying, which was broadcast in 1998 on the national PBS Point of View series and again in an encore showing in 2000. The film has won numerous prestigious awards including an Emmy Award nomination, First Place at the Nashville Independent Film Festival, and Program of the Year Award from the National Hospice Organization. It was also chosen to represent the United States in 1999 at INPUT, an annual screening event of the best and most provocative documentary films worldwide.

Grainger-Monsen's other films include Where the Highway Ends: Rural Healthcare in Crisis, which won an Emmy Award, and Grave Words, which was awarded first place in the American Medical Association Film Festival.

Icarus Films and Fanlight Productions are proud to distribute films by Maren Grainger-Monsen. Discover more of our featured filmmakers.


Blends humor, music and insight in an entertaining primer for physicians and other healthcare providers who need to talk with patients about end-of-life decisions.

Maren Grainger-Monsen, M.D. | 1996 | 25 minutes | Color | English

A devout Muslim immigrant faces possible death from stomach cancer but cultural and linguistic confusions complicate his treatment in an American hospital.

Maren Grainger-Monsen, M.D. and Julia Haslett | 2006 | 58 minutes | Color | English

RARE follows an extraordinary mother in a race against time to find a treatment for her daughter's rare genetic disease.

Maren Grainger-Monsen, M.D. and Nicole Newnham | 2014 | 56 minutes | Color

Chronicles one physician's exploration of how to try and meet the needs of the dying and their families.

Maren Grainger-Monsen, M.D. | 1998 | 52 minutes | Color | English

A series on cross-cultural healthcare. Four films raise awareness about how cultural barriers affect patient-provider communication and other aspects of care for patients of diverse backgrounds.

Maren Grainger-Monsen, M.D. and Julia Haslett | 2003 | 47 minutes | Color | English