This is the first real post-reaching-our-goal update. Again, thank you for your generous support of “That Way Madness Lies..” In the midst of teaching two production classes this fall, one at Barnard College and one at Columbia University, as well as being an advisor to four freshman at Yale, I am gearing up for another shoot in Portland, Oregon probably around the first couple weeks of October.
My brother, Duanne, continues to live at the transitional housing, The Bridgeview, in southwest Portland, still in the depths of crisis and lacking any insight into his situation. His religious fervor and end-of-days writings have reached a new frenzy. He blames the government, the Rothchilds, Satan and me for all of his discomfort. Through a friend he did relay 80th birthday wishes to our father which I took as a hopeful sign.
I am suing the squatter that has moved into his house and, who I recently found out, sold his entire workshop of machinist equipment (easily worth $200,000) for $20,000 cash. As my brother’s limited conservator to the property, not the equipment, I have absolutely NO recourse. She was paid in cash. Getting her off the property is going to be both tricky and costly. I can’t bar her from the property because her name is not on the court order for me to handle and sell the property. (However, the court is on my back for not proceeding to put the house on the market as ordered.) In the state of Oregon, if a person stays more than 7 days on a property, even if they were initially invited, they are considered a resident and cannot be kicked off. Eviction law does not apply to a squatter because there is no contract that has been violated by the squatter so the land-owner has no cause. So, 8-10 thousand dollars and maybe 6-12 months later, I have a chance of getting her out.
Among the many tragedies of this situation is that she also is mentally ill and utterly belligerent. She and Duanne make it a full-time activity in filing complaints and counter complaints at every agency they have ever encountered. She insists that she bought the house from Duanne for $6000 and has the title to it even though my father’s name is on the deed and he did not sign it over to her or anybody. It astounds me that she is so protected and gets her day in court when she is so clearly in the wrong. A upstanding citizen would never get away with this sort of thing.
This issue of “protection” of a mentally ill person is one that I truly want to explore in the film. I am beginning to understand that we are protecting not the person with the illness but our society from having to be proactive. It seems we are putting systems in place to relieve ourselves from the responsibility and therefore the liability of doing the right thing. It is, at the very minimum, frustrating and infuriating.
I am going to be migrating information from Kickstarter to the websitewww.madnessthemovie.com. I hope that you will check it frequently. I am in the process of applying for fiscal sponsorship through the International Documentary Association. All grants and donations can go through them with the tax deductions that are available to a 501 ©3. With the help of some volunteers through professional networks, I am beginning the grantwriting process. If you have any suggestions considering the topic of this film, please do not hesitate to contact me. The film is currently budgeted at $750,000. We have raised a little over $40,000.
I have just sent a large quanitity of 8mm and Super 8mm films to a lab for frame by frame digital scan and restoration. Some of these are home movies and some are movies my brother made as a young adult. It will be interested to see if there is anything in that footage that might suggest we would be where we are today.
I am also looking into interviewing the woman my brother secretly married 12 years ago – and never divorced – who is 28 years his senior. We found out about this marriage two years ago when during his first hospital stay a social worker asked if he had ever been married and he replied, “Sort of…” So far, this woman has stone-walled my requests to speak to her. I also would like to interview the current object of my brother’s erotomania, a woman 19 years his junior whom he has never personally met; an Indigo Crystal Child who lives in Canada. I want to understand their perspectives, hoping that there are some keys to understanding my brother.
So, there you have it for now. Enjoy the fall and all the variety of color it brings. I will be in touch.
My Dear Backers of “That Way Madness Lies…”,
My heart is full and I am a bit light-headed by this Kickstarter experience. You have amazed me. We closed today with $39,020. I think what has touched me the most about this experience is your diversity: some of you are classmates from my school days, grade school, high school and college. There are childhood friends of Duanne and antique car fanantics (and I mean that in the most positive way) who worked, played and worked with Duanne. There are family members who contributed generous amounts with whom I have had only sporadic contact and relatives who have lived this nightmare daily and still made a contribution. Former bosses – even one who fired me several years ago– donated generously. You are colleagues at the universities where I teach and the support staff whose discretionary income is limited and still you chose to help. You are mental health professionals I have never met or met only in passing and you have reached into your pockets. How can I express what that kind of validation of the project feels like? Several of you are my mother’s Spanish students who treat her with such respect and adoration. Then there are my students who know full well that I think their money should be spent elsewhere and in their one act of rebellion openly defy me with their generosity. Many of you are my champions who, regardless of my project, push me forward with kindness and resources. Although I question your wisdom at these times, I love you for it nonetheless. And a good many of you, more that I’d like to think, are people who have been touched by the ravages that mental illness causes and believe in the value of this project.
Money is a funny thing. I think money has the ability to spotlight the already inherent qualities or faults of a person by how they chose to spend it. My first step will be to get fiscal sponsorship through the International Documentary Association and begin applying for corporate grants. My brother’s story continues to unfold and I hope to be in Portland in September to do a shoot. I hope against hope that the ending to the film will not be similar to what happened this weekend in Colorado, although Duanne already posted on Facebook that it was a FBI entrapment of this man similar to one he had experienced. I will continue to contact you though Kickstarter, but I am also setting up our online community at www.madnessthemovie.com. Please stay in touch and remember that I am open to any and all comments or suggestions.
There was a fascinating article in the New York Times Magazine this weekend. Although it was about the author’s father and not her brother, the similarities in dealing with the system felt like a deja vu to me.
I am presently in the midst of hoping for criteria that Duanne creates to allow “imminent” danger to himself or others without anything really bad happening. I have been so willing to jump through the hoops of the system because our sad history of mistreating the mentally ill. When I was in college, my film professor/mentor Michael Roemer showed us a personal copy of Fredrick Wiseman’s Titicut Follies, a searing documentary that had been court-ordered banned from exhibition.
“Just before the film was due to be shown at the 1967 New York Film Festival, the government of Massachusetts tried to get an injunction banning its release. The government claimed that the film violated the patients’ privacy and dignity. Although Wiseman received permission from all the people portrayed or the hospital superintendent (their legal guardian), Massachusetts claimed that this permission could not take the place of valid release forms from the inmates. It also claimed that Wiseman breached an "oral contract” giving the state government editorial control over the film. However, a New York state court allowed the film to be shown. In 1968, however, Massachusetts Superior Court judge Harry Kalus ordered the film yanked from distribution and called for all copies to be destroyed, citing the state’s concerns about violations of the patients’ privacy and dignity.
Wiseman appealed to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, which in 1969 allowed it to be shown only to doctors, lawyers, judges, health-care professionals, social workers, and students in these and related fields. Wiseman appealed to the United States Supreme Court, which refused to hear the case. Wiseman has pointed out that he received permission from all of the people portrayed in the film or else their legal guardian, in this case the superintendent of Bridgewater. He believes that the government of Massachusetts, concerned that the film portrayed a state institution in a bad light, intervened to protect its own reputation. The state intervened after a social worker in Minnesota wrote to Governor John Volpe expressing shock at a scene involving a naked man being taunted by a guard. The dispute marked the first known instance in the history of the American film industry that a film was banned from general distribution for reasons other than obscenity, immorality or national security.
Little changed until 1987, when the families of seven inmates who died at the hospital sued the hospital and state. Steven Schwartz represented one of the inmates. Schwartz’s client who was “restrained for 2 ½ months and given six psychiatric drugs at vastly unsafe levels - - choked to death because he could not swallow his food. Schwartz claims that, “There is a direct connection between the decision not to show that film publicly and my client dying 20 years later, and a whole host of other people dying in between. In fact, “In the years since Mr. Wiseman made ‘Titicut Follies’, most of the nation’s big mental institutions have been closed or cut back by court orders. In addition, “the film may have also influenced the closing of the institution featured in the film.” (Wikipedia)
Because of those images, indelibly etched in my mind’s eye, I have had the patience to deal with a system that is broken in every way, albeit a reaction to the way things were. Maybe this film can help influence the over-correction in the system where it is nearly impossible to provide care and care that is, indeed, available.
Duanne saw the Kickstarter site yesterday. He “liked” it and reposted it on his Facebook page. Of course everyday, I worry about exploiting him for the greater good. It has been interesting to see how the stigma of mental illness is affecting my extended family. The American side of the family has come out of the woodwork and been tremendously supportive. The Mexican side of the family (with one exception) has stone-walled me and the topic. I know it is cultural and I know that shame is toxic.
So, onward and upward toward our goal. Please take an active part in telling people about the project. I know that we get funded. Thanks.
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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