Coming to theatres (as part of the International Documentary Association’s Oscar-qualifying DocuWeeks) at NYC’s IFC Center this Friday, August 17 and at LA’s Laemmle NoHo 7 next Friday, August 24: OF TWO MINDS
Doug Blush and Lisa Klein’s portrait of bipolar disorder made its world premiere at this year’s Cleveland International Film Festival. It went on to screen at Newport Beach and both the Los Angeles and New York editions of the United Film Festival.
Inspired by the struggles with bipolar faced by her late sister, Klein and husband Blush set out to humanize a disorder that is still misunderstood and to demonstrate the realities for those living with it. To that end, rather than focus on the diagnosis and its treatment, the film instead spotlights a diverse range of otherwise ordinary individuals who share their lives, the challenges, and, for some, the benefits, bipolar disorder has brought them. Threaded through these brief profiles and vignettes, a small handful emerge as primary characters, their stories presented more fully and successfully than the latter, including Liz, a journalist who unexpectedly found freedom in coming out as bipolar in print, launching an unlikely career as a mental health advocate; Carlton, who channeled his condition into his artwork, but simultaneously has succumbed to troubling, self-destructive behavior; and Cheri, a stylist who struggles with stability, is drowning in health care costs, and tries to make a new relationship work with Petey, a musician with his own issues. As these characters deal with daily life, the literal highs and lows of their disorder, and the common concerns faced by most who suffer from mental illness, such as side effects and societal stigma, Klein and Blush succeed in intimately confronting the audience with well-rounded characters rather than case studies.