Art of Psychiatry Society


Interview with Kathy Leichter, film director ‘Here one day’
May 19, 2011, 5:10 pm
Filed under: Film

 

Here One Day trailer from Kathy Leichter on Vimeo.

Kathy Leichter is a documentary film producer and director.  Kathy is currently in production on HERE ONE DAY, a documentary which follows Kathy’s quest to understand how living with her mother’s mental illness and losing her to suicide have impacted her and her family.  The film is unfinished and Kathy is fundraising.

Here she tells us about the project.  The trailer is above.

Blog

Kickstarter campaign link

 

Can you tell us about the film you are making?

HERE ONE DAY is a jaw-droppingly beautiful, emotionally gripping documentary that explores the effect of my mother’s bipolar disorder and suicide on my family. The film is an intergenerational tale of discovery, an adult daughter’s coming of age story, and an exploration of how mother-loss reverberates across generations. It is also a joyous celebration of life, love, and the powerful connection between mother and child. The film documents my journey to let go of my mother after living many years with her mental illness and eventual suicide in 1995. The film also looks at mother-loss across generations in my family and my experience now as a new mother parenting my children with this legacy.

How much is this a film about a family tragedy and how much does it also seek to explore the experience of bipolar suffers today?

My mother was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1974.  What followed was a long, sometimes successful, sometimes nightmarish, struggle with various medications and a gradual, reoccurring slide from mania into depression which we describe in the film. Her experience of the illness and its effect on others is vividly portrayed.  But, while HERE ONE DAY is about mental illness and suicide, all too common experiences that remain alarmingly taboo and dreadfully need more public discussion, it is also about the universal experiences we all have of holding onto and letting go of people we love, the ever-changing parent/child relationship, and how our emotional experiences, not just our biology, get passed down from one generation to the next.

How difficult has it been for you to make a film on such a personal subject?

I never thought I would ever make a personal documentary before I started this film. But then, when thinking in 2004 about my next project, I looked deep inside and knew that it was my own story that I had to tell before I could help anyone else tell theirs. There are a lot of emotional challenges that one experiences making a film like this, but I have grown from each one and learned a tremendous amount. So, the film has been a real journey of healing for me that might have happened another way but I think it happened faster and perhaps more deeply because the work is so personal. The personal subject matter also brought me closer to my family and gave us a reason to talk about this very painful, but also important experience in our lives and also a chance to look back and remember and celebrate my mother too.

You say that the film follows your family that they ‘attempt to make sense of what happened and go on with their lives’ – what ways did your family find to cope?

We all coped in different ways—some of us by sitting right in the middle of the grief and swimming around in it and some of us staying as far away from it as possible. I think everyone deals with these things in their own way and on their own time. I would like to say that we were very together around this loss, but it was a mixture. Sometimes it felt like we were dealing with it on our own like separate islands and other times it felt like a journey we were all on together. We are still coping, although it is much easier now and there is more space for joy and delight in all things.

Your mother was diagnosed as bipolar in 1974, and you are making the film nearly forty years later.  Have you used a lot of cine footage?

We are using a lot of super 8 home movie footage from my family, which happens to be in great shape. It’s a terrific element and really helps Nina to come alive.

How do you see this film helping other families who are in a similar situation of that of your own?

The film has moved many to write in and share their stories, personal experiences, questions, and resources. We are already creating a vital on-line community of support and we hope to continue this once the film is finished. Ending the silence is a crucial part of mitigating the isolation many families feel. We want to show people that it is ok and even good to tell our stories. We want to shatter taboos and reduce stigma. No one should have to feel the range of feelings one feels alone. We need to talk more openly about our experiences to help raise awareness about these issues, change public perception of the mentally ill, help others to get help and bring more funding to research and other public resources.

Your film is not finished but there’s a fund raising campaign. Has it been hard to raise money for a subject such as this?

Fundraising for anything in this economy is challenging and especially for independent film. But, I believe deeply in independent media and the work we are doing so the hard work is worth it. In fact, we have been extremely successful raising funds since the film’s inception–our supporters come from all over the world! To date, there are over 300 Here One Day contributors and they are a fantastic group of people! Our fundraising has been very personal and intimate and the people who have donated really care about the themes of the film and others in the community of backers.

Though time consuming, the fundraising has connected me with wonderful people—some I knew well and some I met for the first time during this process.

Why is the June 1st deadline so important?

We have until the morning of June 1st to raise $25,000 on Kickstarter.com.

Please check out our campaign and consider making a pledge

Every dollar helps to keep us in the edit room in order to finish the film. Pledges are tiered with each tier offering beautiful keepsakes and rewards depending on your donation level. If Here One Day doesn’t reach its $25,000 goal in 30 days, nobody pays and we don’t get the funds. We are under the gun to have the film completed in time for a premier screening at the American Psychiatric Association’s 63rd Institute on Psychiatric Services in San Francisco this October.  The Institute will be attended by over 1,500 mental health professionals from around the globe.

It’s a perfect venue for the film.

Are there any other films or books on the subject of this film that you would recommend to the readers of this blog?

My friend, Dempsey Rice, made a great film called Daughter of Suicide. I also liked Doug Block’s 51 Birch Street which has nothing to do with suicide, but is a great personal documentary. No Time to Say Goodbye is a great book by Carla Fine as is Touched By Suicide which she wrote with Michael Myers. I also liked Hurry Down Sunshine by Michael Greenberg about his daughter’s mental illness and Living a Year of Kaddish by Ari Goldman about grieving the loss of his father. I also liked In Her Wake, by Nancy Rappaport, There are many more books and films that I could mention but these are some of the ones that first come to mind.


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