During a 20-year journey, Millie Smiley, who lives with schizophrenia, traveled through 17 psychiatric wards, eight apartments, three boarding houses, and countless motels.
Beginning April 27, she will visit the living rooms of millions of Americans through PBS television broadcasts of out of the shadow, a powerful documentary made by her daughter, Susan Smiley. Her television debut arrives in time for Mental Health Month.
PBS stations are scheduling the documentary independently. Check local listings for broadcast dates and times in your area. It will remain available for broadcast for three years -- giving it tremendous potential for broad public education.
The film is the story of one family's experience with mental illness, as well as with what Susan calls the "travesties of our public health system, which so poorly cared for my mother that decades of her life were wasted."
Today, Susan and her sister, Tina, are Millie's guardians. At the end of the film, Millie is able to return to work, in a sandwich shop, for the first time in 25 years. "Anything I can do for you, let me know," Millie tells Susan. "I'm still your mother. I'm supposed to be the mother. I know you are, but I am supposed to be."
out of the shadowis inspiring -- but not sugar-coated. It is about pain, anger, and shame, but also love and forgiveness, recovery and hope. The film weaves family interviews, home movie footage, and family photos with more recent footage shot in hospitals and group homes, during different stages of Millie's illness.
NAMI screened the film in 2004 at its national convention in Washington, DC, and numerous NAMI affiliates have sponsored local screenings around the country. NAMI's Mind of America Foundation will honor Susan at the upcoming Annual Convention with its Outstanding Media Award for a Television Documentary for 2006. The current cover story of Schizophrenia Digest is devoted to the film, including photos, narration, and dialogue from 12 scenes.
By sharing her family's story, Susan hopes to encourage other families, educate people, and dispel stigma and misconceptions about schizophrenia. She also hopes it will help fuel grassroots advocacy to transform the current mental healthcare system.
"It is a heart-felt and eye-opening film that needs to be seen by everyone, in order to effect change," said Ken Duckworth, NAMI's medical director, who has written study guides to accompany the film.
Copies of the film are available for purchase in VHS and DVD formats through the film's Web site. There is a 38-minute version for high schools ($89) and a 13-minute advocacy version for short presentations ($24). Copies for personal use only are $37, including shipping.
out of the shadowis produced by Vine Street Pictures and Oregon Public Broadcasting and distributed by American Public Television. Funding has been provided by Janssen L.P., the David C. and Lura M. Lovell Foundation, Pfizer, and the Zellerbach Family Foundation.
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