Tag Archives: Mental Illness

Mental Health Channel Online Film Festival: The Mermaid By Sara Werner [2015 Jury Winner]

Photo by MART PRODUCTION on Pexels.com

This is a bittersweet short about a young man that suffers from schizophrenia and the sister that cares for him.

The pair live together in a small apartment, and from how the sister describes their living situation, she has been her brother’s primary caregiver for quite some time. What stood out most to me in this film was their relationship dynamic and how real it was to witness as a viewer. Namely, the childlike innocence that their relationship embodies, especially when she and her brother ride their bikes to the beach. She knows her brother’s goldfish doesn’t belong in the ocean, but she is willing to appease him just to keep him calm. It seemed like for a second, when the two of them were making their way to the beach, that the siblings were transported back to a time when they were younger-when they believed in fictional characters and went on epic adventures. For her, it felt like she was in a different place. A place where she had no worries, and her life was normal enough to smile. A place where she could laugh and be free to enjoy her brother’s fellowship without complication. While this was true in some respects, for a second, it was also untrue. But isn’t that the realest part of life, the idea that once we become adults and shed our childhood wonders in favor of responsibility, it is hard to get back to a place where we can be truly carefree again? This is the conundrum the sister faces. As his sister, she wants to enjoy the moment with him, but as his caregiver, she has an obligation that prevents her from being irresponsible with her brother’s wellbeing.

Despite this, I really liked how well the sister understood the little nuances in her brother’s behavior. In particular, how she could figure out creative ways to counteract his negative behavioral traits. I know that this was not without a cost. As we can see in the film, she breaks down in frustration and exhaustion as a result of her constant battle to keep him under control. She is a very capable person, but you can see that she lacks the proper tools and support. Towards the end of the film, we see her love interest begin to accept her unusual situation and her brother’s mental illness. He wants to do everything he can to be helpful and supportive. When she finally tells him to call the police, this is the moment, I believe, she has reached the end of her rope. She is done trying to fight. She craves a normal life. She knows calling the police on her brother may be a deadly decision, and she wants to do it anyway.

MYM: Gracie

Photo by Pat Whelen on Pexels.com

How can a second spent reminiscing about long-gone memories entrap a person in their mature age? 

The film Gracie captures the unique essence of the passage of time. 

Following the character, Gracie, an elderly Jamaican immigrant, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, as she comes to terms with her situation. Grace lives in a nursing home and is frequently visited by her daughter and grandson, Aaron. As the story progresses, we learn Gracie is stuck in a memory where her deceased husband, Winston, is still alive. Believing Winston is coming to get her, Gracie sits in her room and waits for him.

Other times, Gracie is observed shifting between good memories, like tasting the sweet mangoes from her homeland of Jamaica, and bad memories, like the racism she once experienced from her neighbors. Fortunately, for Gracie, she has her grandson, Aaron. During one of the scenes, Gracie suffers an episode, and she forgets she is in a nursing home. Gracie begins packing her bags, readying herself to reunite with her husband in Jamaica. Aaron forced to remind her where she is and manages to settle her emotions. In a dreadful sight, we see a woman losing touch with her reality in the final stage of her life. As tears stream down Gracie’s face, she realizes she cannot leave.

Days pass by, and the nurses and Aaron start to see Gracie receding back into herself as she listens to a familiar song playing in the background, silently recalling a simpler time when she used to dance. 

Wanting to do something special for his grandmother, Aaron makes plans to recreate one of Gracie’s favorite places. He grasps her by the hand, tells her to pack her things, and takes her outside to a recreated beach. Gracie, overcome with joy, settles down on one of the beach chairs and takes off her shoes. Sipping a cold drink, Aaron plays the tune she loved so much, only this time she does not have to listen to it alone. The last shot is tears rolling down Gracie’s cheeks and a smile on her face, as she relives the life she always wanted.

Film School Shorts: Salt and Sweet, Sweet Country

Photo by Vindhya Chandrasekharan on Pexels.com

Salt *trigger warming*

This was a well-crafted film. I could instantly feel the profound emotion with each scene; it was almost melodic in delivery. I thought the actors were great at their roles and nailed a bizarrely beautiful film. I am surprised the boy did not tell anyone sooner what he witnessed; I assume he wanted to have a moment to pay his respects to her. Not that she could have been saved, but her distraught family would have been able to grieve her loss much sooner.

One of two things was troubling the girl. She was either mentally ill and lost in this altered reality, or two, she genuinely believed in the folktale and was blinded by her child innocence.

Sweet, Sweet Country *content warning*

This is an authentic film about a young refugee inevitably forced to survive in the U.S. on her own. Turning to illegal prostitution to support herself, she dutifully sends any excess money back home to her unassuming family in Somalia. When her family unexpectedly arrives in the U.S., the young refugee is confronted with harsh judgment from her father and the potential loss of a primary client.

Film School Shorts: Bookends, Prom, and When We Were Young

Photo by Ashutosh Jaiswal on Pexels.com


This film is a must watch film because it has all the makings of a top-notch thriller. The anxiety that builds up while you are watching is palpable, until the particular moment when the short ends, and you are left inquiring what will happen next.


Based on a true story. Prom is a film that will leave you speechless. I’m sad the young man in the film didn’t go to his prom anyway, but I understand his reason why. Seeing your date out with another person is heartbreaking. Her parents were OK with the two of them studying together, but not with them extending their friendship beyond those confines. A sad story, but one that happens all too often.

When We Were Young

This was a sad but heartwarming film about the beauty of family, and all the memories we share together. I liked how the film emphasizes her family’s uniqueness and authenticity. Particularly, her grandmother’s relationship with her. It is cute because her grandmother raised her, and now that she is older, despite the fact that things have changed, she is repaying the favor by taking care of her. It is a beautiful animated film.

Also, other films to watch:

We Are Immigrants

This is a film that aims to visually represent what a typical journey could be like for a family crossing the US-Mexico border. It is animated, detailed, and sadly does not have a good ending.

Fanny Pack

I enjoy the immediate humor in this film. The father’s character is comical, and it is effortless to relate to, if you have overbearing parents.