I've had the pleasure of attending almost all of our festival screenings so far- including Glasgow, Victoria then Vancouver BC, San Jose CA, and obviously Toronto. The only one I wasn't able to attend was Melbourne, Australia. (It's only the furthest point I could go to.) While it's been an amazing experience being able to talk about the film; what has been most fulfilling is hearing audience responses after the film.... Is it possible to suggest to festivals that a portion of the Q&A goes towards hearing audience reactions? I think programmers would hate that.... (Although in Glasgow I went rogue and started asking the audience questions! It was great! Sorry Richard.)
In every city I've been to I've had at least one (more often several) people come up to me after the screening to let me know that they are struggling with their own mental health issues (not just schizophrenia, but bi-polar, ODC, depression....) And that ultimately they very much related to Margot's experience and that it provided hope. What's exceptional about this to me is:
1) That although Margot's experience is very specifically grounded in schizophrenia-related psychosis & paranoia - her story has proven to be at times universal amongst those who have struggled with mental health concerns... Confusion, pain, suffering, hope, and acceptance. That's all the film is really about... Isn't that all that life is?... Okay, okay, this could get side-tracked...
2) Total strangers have come to me and shared really personal experiences. Where else in life does that happen in a public space? ... Parties where people have drank too much.... Group Therapy. That's it. Also, acquaintances have started "coming out" to me and letting me know about their own mental health struggles. For someone who has little patience for surface-level chit chat- this is such a gift. Getting to the real grit of people's emotional core.
Also, in Glasgow, I had an amazing conversation during the Q&A with a man who made realize why the film was effective (in a way I hadn't fully realized before.) He said that while he loved really sensationalized films about mental health like 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' (which I also love for the record) - that those films are often not helpful depictions and that I could have easily sold out and gone the "hollywood" route.... (Which of course I couldn't because that requires big $$, but that's not the point.) He said: "In your film you struck exactly the right balance between showing every side of how schizophrenia can make it harder to have the things everyone wants - a loving partner, a steady job - but never for a second did I feel like a voyeur gawping at someone else's symptoms for entertainment." ..... We continued this conversation on our facebook page after (https://www.facebook.com/danandmargot/), and he helped make me to see the film for what it's worth.
Is this blog post getting really boring now?... One more quick item to say: the organizations and programmers who have supported this film have made the BIGGEST difference. Really.... The Programming Directors who have hosted me and made me feel so supported and comfortable- thank you. The orgs have also been really important because they are the link to the schizophrenia communities.... I was most nervous about showing the film to this population (because what if they felt I had misrepresented those living with schizophrenia?), but it ended up they have been amongst the most supportive! Apparently this is a very respectful film.... I thought I was being subversive with all the swearing and drinking!
After writing this I feel so appreciative! My usual state of semi- bitterness has just washed away. Thank you!