Friday, May 13, 2011

Turning the Camera Lens on Mental Illness

Poster from "So You're Going Crazy." Image from Facebook.

JOEY Pants (aka Joe Pantoliano) tried sex, drugs, success, rock ‘n’ roll – the whole nine yards – to ease his pain and discomfort. Nothing helped, he explains in “You Kidding Me Too.’’

In the documentary directed by “The Sopranos” alum, he turns his camera on those who suffer from and thrive in spite of mental illness, particularly bipolar disorder from which he suffers. (See video:

Joe Pantoliano. Publicity still.

“You Kidding Me Too,” which grew out of JP’s nonprofit of the same name (, is one of three documentaries that puts the spotlight on mental illness. All are to be screened at tomorrow’s 7th Annual New York City Mental Health Film Festival, sponsored by Community Access and the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services (NYAPRS) at St. Francis College in Brooklyn.

Opening the mental health film festival is “Family Matters: Surviving the Bipolar Journey." Director Mary M. Frymire follows four families as they try to keep it together while dealing with the dizzying highs and crushing lows of the roller-coaster that is bipolar disorder, once upon a time known as manic depression. (See video:

A sobering statistic: While one in five Americans suffers from a mental illness, four out of five are affected by it. That underscores the importance of this issue and explains the growing numbers of film festivals around the world devoted to mental health topics, including the recent Awareness Film Festival in Los Angeles and the upcoming Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival in Toronto.

A poster from Image from “Family Matters: Surviving the Bipolar Journey." Photo courtesy of The Bipolar Family.

Closing the festival is Hilary Dean’s “So You're Going Crazy.” The film student who herself has a mental illness, uses interviews, animation and other devices to attempt to provide some insights into the workings of the abnormal mind. “So You’re Going Crazy,” an official selection at Rendezvous with Madness, also offers encouragement to others who are challenged by mental illness and those who love and support them.(See video:

Visit and http:// to learn more about the 7th Annual New York City Mental Health Film Festival.

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