Tag Archives: documentary

Boy Meets Girl

Boy Meets GirlLast night, my partner and I watched Boy Meets Girl, a touching, funny film  about transgender love and friendship.

No, we didn’t pick the title because of the hubbub around Caitlyn Jenner (though I’m sure Netflix moved it to the top of their list due to recent controversy and publicity).

I’m glad we had the chance to view the film. Powerful and witty, it offers insight into the world of a transgender woman, her friends, family and lovers. I don’t want to spoil the plot so I won’t give away too much information but, if you want to experience life from someone else’s perspective (unless of course you’re a trans person), I suggest you give this sweet, simple and funny film a try.

It was refreshingly honest without being cloy, depressing or one-sided. And, Michelle Hendley is a force to be reckoned with. Check out Michelle and her gorgeous web site. I’m simply in awe of people who are willing to “put themselves out there” and truly be, well, themselves.

Out of the Shadow documentary

The other night, I watched (most of) the documentary Out of the Shadow. Written and produced by Susan Smiley, the doc features Smiley’s mother, Millie, an intelligent, likeable woman diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

Here is some promotional material from the doc’s web site; I found it quite moving:

Image and text from official Out of the Shadow web site

You are not alone. Come out of the shadows. Fight the shame and stigma.
This is an honest, moving, profound film about mental illness, and a family who copes. Here you will find hope, compassion and inspiration.

Even with today’s focus on support groups and sharing information, in our “Free to Be You and Me” society there is still a lot of shame and confusion around mental illness. Many are driven to hiding their condition and some to suicide.

Out of the Shadow ends on a positive note for Millie but it does not paint  a pretty picture of children, adults and families living with schizophrenia. The various doctors Millie saw, the drug combinations she contended with, and the vast economic difficulties and social stigma she felt left me feeling raw and drained.

It’s not for the faint of heart but it is a riveting and important film. If you’d like to learn more, you can watch a film trailer on the site or order a DVD online.

A Hard Name = A Hard Life

Can One Overcome An Abusive Childhood?

Last month, I watched a heart-breaking, raw documentary on TVO. A Hard Name details the life and times of ex-convicts trying to make their way through  our world after serving time in jail for a variety of horrendous and petty crimes – robbery, assault, fraud, etc.

It’s easy to judge criminals – they’re “bad”, they don’t care about society, they’re selfish and careless. This may be true to some extent. However, an inconvenient truth reveals that many “bad” adults have been violated, assaulted, insulted and abused as children.  This lethal treatment has left them numb to the world, incapable of making sense of normal and of legal paths.

One man, an ex-con, featured in A Hard Name recounts how his mother sent him off to live with his biological father in a distant city when he was a small child. The man’s step-mother felt threatened by this little boy – beat and humiliated him and finally convinced his father to send the boy to a psychiatric facility. A few years later, after suffering through his experience at the facility, the boy was told his father had died. He attended the funeral and then went “home” to live with his step-mother. After a short time, his step-mother told the boy they were moving. “Where are we moving to, Mama?” he asked. “You’re not moving, WE are moving,” he was told. The woman then packed up the rest of the family and moved away leaving this boy to fend for himself on the streets.

Can you imagine? Tell me: how can you grow up to love and appreciate yourself and others after suffering through such trauma? Can one ever recover from a harsh and brutal upbringing? What do you think?