GENRE: DOCUMENTARY (FEATURE), DOCUMENTARY (SHORT)
TYPE: FILM | IN-PERSON
KEYWORDS: BIPOLAR DISORDER | SCHIZOPHRENIA | MISSING PERSON | FAMILY | UNORTHODOX TREATMENT
Noella Luka’s riveting autobiographical documentary deftly explores the grief of dreams diverted by a bipolar diagnosis and the vulnerability of searching for the right support and community while navigating new and difficult life changes. Her plans to live and work in film abroad are cut short by her initial hospitalization, and she returns home to Kenya where mental health issues remain strictly taboo. Once there, she decides to document and dig into the how and why of her condition, running up against tradition, prejudice, and uncertainty, which makes even discussing the subject of illness uncomfortable for both family and friends. With a lack of references to guide them, those close to her are truly unsure of what this shift in circumstance really means. Undaunted, Luka looks for further understanding and a sense of community in a mental health support group, where she befriends newly diagnosed schizophrenic Nick–a man who recently returned home from Colombia after putting an end to his quest to become a Catholic priest. Through Nick, viewers are given a unique and disturbing opportunity to observe how certain mental illnesses are still viewed and treated, even in the 21st century. In exploring their unique situations, Luka gives voice to all those navigating the often uncharted waters of mental health–for those both with and without support systems in place–and offers a truly inspiring story of hope, change and possibility.