Opinion: An independent film close to home



Melissa Schwachenwald

Melissa Schwachenwald

Melissa Schwachenwald is a senior fine arts major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]

The Cleveland Film Festival presented a variety of contemporary international and American independent filmmaking.

More than 160 films were separated into categories such as environmental issues, LGBT, cinema en Espanol, family films, Pan-African, Jewish and women’s views.

With a student discount, I spent $10 for a standby ticket to see “Of Two Minds.”

I waited with a group of close family and friends in a crowded Tower City hallway; there wasn’t a guarantee all of us would be able to see the film and the anticipation was somewhat nerve-racking.

The Cleveland Film Festival magazine contained hundreds of intriguing descriptions, but “Of Two Minds” captured my attention immediately.

The first line, “In recent years there has been a rise in the awareness of mental disorders” sparked my interest because of my close relationships with people diagnosed as bipolar.

The rest of the information for the film explained that it was about provocative personal accounts of compelling people living with the illness. The definition of bipolar disorder, according to the DSM-IV [the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association], is complicated.

There are multiple forms of the disorder formerly known as manic depression. A chemical imbalance in the brain causes symptoms that can range from heightened energy, creativity and euphoria in the manic stage and may lead to impulsive and reckless choices, a lack of sleep and appetite along with depression, irritability and fatigue.

The extremes can be subtle or interfere with daily life, in which case the person should seek psychiatric help and medication if necessary.

After waiting anxiously in the line for 40 minutes, our tickets were called and we entered the swarming theatre.

The only available seats were in the front row and I remembered the last time I sat in the front of a theatre was at the opening of “Titanic.” I was just as excited, except Leonardo DiCaprio wasn’t the reason this time; I realized all of these people were about to watch a movie about a topic that is very important to me.

The opening scene of the movie introduces Cheri Keating as she dances around while upbeat electronic music plays loudly. Images of a fast-paced city at night with flashing lights and speeding cars transitions between her spinning around as she explains, “This is what mania feels like.”

The hilarious cast shares their true stories throughout the film such as an artist who lived a secret life as a cross-dresser. Carlton Davis’ wife noticed her jewelry and clothes were missing; he would put an ice pick in his purse and walk around downtown L.A. at night for the thrill of it.

A performer made an appearance in the film and stated, “I know I’m nuts and I’m proud of it. The world would be a boring place if crazy people didn’t exist.”

The mental illness, like most, has a stigma that is often negative and some people may jump to conclusions with topics that involve “crazy people.” I believe coping with struggles humbles a person and creates an appreciation that is hard to understand without experiencing rock bottom.

Physical health, eating and handling stress properly, having a regular sleep schedule and supportive relationships are necessary for mental health. It also helps to not take life too seriously; laugh at how ridiculous life is because you’re not surviving it anyway.