Part of the scope of the Movie Monday Project at EMP Theatre is to provide, as well as entertainment - quality, thought-provoking material on topics around mental health and mental illness.
We showed Benny & Joon Dec. 6, 93. It's a movie about a woman affected by mental illness, living with her brother. Sam, a Buster Keaton-like young man comes into their lives and is a catalyst for change.
I previewed the movie as it had been recommended by some of my movie-goers/'fellow-consumers'. My impression was that it was Hollywood's version. I thought it was quite unrealistic, in my experience it isn't really like that. In discussing it further I realised my perceptions were not those of people who have had more experience and struggles with mental illness and 'the system'.
I screened the film with the provision made for discussion afterward with an experienced facilitator/'consumer' on hand. It was our best attended movie night so far, nearly a full house, and the discussion that followed swirled around all the issues the movie raised - sexuality, family control, and 'institutionalisation' (reduced expectations for and by the person identified as being ill). As well, the discussion carried on to critique the institution we were using and the appropriateness of the atmosphere and style of care. It was most satisfying to provide this forum for users of the system to speak out.
On the mental health/illness theme, 35up and Rain Man, Angel At My Table, Life Is Sweet, have been screened and Awakenings, Fearless, Jesus Of Montreal, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest and Mr. Jones were other very popular M.M. evenings, all followed by stimulating discussions, with panels or individual expert contributors. There were What About Bob? and Groundhog Day on the lighter side - good fun many of us could identify with because of or own brushes with mental illness. Ordinary People, Don Juan deMarco, Who's Afraid of Viginia Wolfe, Outrageous, - there are lots more to come in Movie Monday's eclectic mix of presentations in the New Year!
Movie Monday's about more than just a free movie...we're the only place in town that can present movies in this way...come warm a seat and participate in the process. This positive 'consumer' initiative grows stronger with your support!
Bruce Saunders, 23 Oct 1995