As 2017 comes to a close, I am caught between looking back, looking forward, and dealing with the present. I am overwhelmed with so many emotions, but the most important one I hold onto is gratitude. I had tremendous guidance and support this year, which allowed the film to be completed. Regina K. Scully, Abigail Disney and Geralyn Dreyfous, the trifecta of documentary executive producers (who are fiercely committed to quality filmmaking, advocacy, and philanthropy) gave me access to my voice and resources, allowing me to make THAT WAY MADNESS LIES... in a way that would not have otherwise been possible.
Abigail Disney recently met with Senators Kirsten Gillabrand and Cortez Mato about the film, and because of their interest gave them DVD copies. They are going to look into involving Senator Debbie Stebenow from Michigan to arrange for a screening of the film on Capitol Hill. That is a bucket list item for me!
I also got a call from Multnomah County Commissioner Susan Meieran, who wants to use the film as a cornerstone of research for mental health policy reform in Portland, Oregon.
My editor, collaborator and now friend, Anne Alvergue, and supervising editor Toby Shimin, were tough and tender blacksmiths of my film's structure. Composer Michael Bacon gave the film a musical soul. My co-producing team of Dewey Wigod, Stu Zakim, and Sammy Applebaum have been knocking on doors and trying to get the gatekeepers to answer. My life-long friend, graphic designer Susan Shepperd is deftly handling the website and social media. And still, I find my days filled with things to do in hopes that I can get more people to see the film.
Without a doubt, screening the film for the very first time at the Portland Art Museum was the highlight of the year for me. There has been nothing more rewarding or terrifying than showing the film in the town where it took place, and where many knew Duanne and me since we were children. The audience response of subsequent screenings has been filled with unexpected hugs and tears from audience members thanking me for giving a voice to THEIR stories for the very first time. Nothing could have surprised me more, or felt more rewarding. My experience was not unique, but I had a record of it that other's did not.
Many have asked about my brother Duanne after the narrative of the film ends in October of 2016. He has been arrested twice. The first time, after having spent a few months in jail, he was sent to the Oregon State Hospital for treat-for-trial-competency, which he failed. The charges were dismissed and he was released. Since the end of September, he has been sitting in the Multnomah County jail. I have no idea what his future holds. This December, on the fifth anniversary of our mother's tragic death, the Clackamas Town Center Shooting, Sandy Hook, the necessity to have armed security at my mother's memorial, and the recent onslaught of mass shootings this past fall, I have been experiencing PTSD and feeling quite hopeless about our inability to do anything for people with severe mental illness with regards to the increase in mass shootings. I recently wrote an opinion piece about my feelings, which journalist and mental health advocate Peter Early published on his blog on Dec. 22, 2017. We are linking to it here and hope that other outlets will pick it up and republish. I welcome your comments.
For me, the holiday season will forever be a mixed bag. However, the things that make it difficult will not stop me from thanking you for your help, friendship, and support, and wishing you peace, love, and laughter in the new year. And here's to, hopefully, a wide release of THAT WAY MADNESS LIES... so together we can start fixing mental health policy. Happy Holidays! Rest and replenish so we can soldier on.
Sandra Luckow is an award winning filmmaker based in New York City. Her films include: Sharp Edges; Belly Talkers; A World Within; That Way Madness Lies…
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