Sunday, May 12, 2013

A 'Most Moving' Look at Mental Illness

What better setting for a documentary about mental illness, six years in the making, than a screening at the 2013 American Psychiatric Conference?

Hidden Pictures, by Delaney Ruston, premiered in late March at the Conference on Global Mental Health in London. Since then, it has screened at the United Nations in India (May 3rd) and at the Seattle True Independent Film Festival (May 5th), where it won the prize for Most Moving Documentary. The American Psychiatric Conference showing will take place May 21st at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco.

Left, right and center in today's news headlines are echoes of the sorry state of how this country cares for its mentally ill. Compounded by the fact that for reasons both documented and speculated, there are more such individuals in the U.S. of A it seems than ever before. The filmmaker has a direct family connection to this topic:

Ruston grew up under the shadow of her dad’s illness, schizophrenia. While reconnecting with him after years of estrangement (as seen in the award winning PBS documentary Unlisted: A Story of Schizophrenia), Ruston became interested in the experiences of other families around the globe.
How are people accepted or rejected? What is mental health care like? Given that the WHO estimates that 450 million people worldwide have a mental illness, why do we rarely hear about their lives? Ruston takes us on her journey to answer these questions, uncovering personal stories in India, China, South Africa, France and the US. What emerges are scenes of profound frustration, moments of true compassion, and haunting insights. The journey ends by exploring the force of change that individuals are bringing about, including actress Glenn Close’s movement to fight stigma.

Ruston is a Stanford-trained physician who pursued film in the Bay Area while completing her internal medicine residency and a Fellowship at the University of California, SF. Many more screenings of her latest documentary are at press time being finalized.

[Hidden Pictures]

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