Mactavish's mile: Filming a cure for cancer

Despite being only 40 years old, screenwriter and filmmaker Scott Mactavish has garnered considerable recognition in both of America's entertainment industry capitals. Yet the idea for his documentary premiering this month derives from neither Broadway nor Hollywood. Summer Running features breast cancer victims who live in and around Charlottesville.

Mactavish has achieved success in New York City as both a writer and an actor, appearing in theatrical, televised, and film productions– including a bit part in Dennis Hopper's 1994 film, Chasers.

Following film school at New York University, Mactavish left for Los Angeles, where he worked a variety of jobs on several films while writing four screenplays of his own.

"We moved down here about a year and a half ago," says Mactavish, "and my wife started running these races for breast cancer. I needed to dig deeper, because why would this woman, without an athletic bone in her body, all of a sudden be running for this cause?"

As Mactavish dug, his wife's enthusiasm turned out to be infectious. Although he's an athlete, holding a second-degree black belt in American Kempo, he decided to show his concern for breast cancer victims not with karate, but with a camera.

He was well prepared.

Mactavish has produced several documentaries, including Chagas: A Hidden Affliction, set in Argentina. He put his film experience and expertise to work for breast cancer because, he says, "These women who run are really an inspiration."

The film takes its title from Summer Shin, a woman who began running to raise money for breast cancer despite having juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Local cancer survivor Christa Slotboom is another inspiration in the film. In addition to having kicked the cancer, this 36-year-old Charlottesville resident mothers three children, partially the reason why Mactavish featured her in Summer Running. Mactavish himself has two children and understands the difficulty of raising a family. He's even written a book entitled The New Dad's Survival Guide.

 Slotboom believes that the awareness Summer Running raises is valuable. The film explores several research techniques and includes interviews with leading doctors and scientists, such as researchers from Johns Hopkins University, UVA, and private facilities.

"This disease has become an almost insidious part of society," says Slotboom. "I don't think people realize its severity. Definitely we need to get the word out."

The film screening is scheduled for Saturday, June 25, at 7pm at the Paramount Theater downtown. Reception and silent auction are to follow. Proceeds benefit breast cancer research.

More information can be found on Summer Running and Mactavish online at

Scott McTavish