National Alliance on Mental Illness
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CANVAS: Sailing Forward, Three Dramas in One
Three dramas are playing out that may make history in the campaign to overcome stigma and achieve broad public education about the experience of ordinary families in confronting mental illness.
One drama is straight out of
The second drama is the grassroots effort to bring CANVAS to theaters nationwide.
NAMI members are now learning about the tough challenge faced by small budget independent films, unlike ones produced by major movie studios.
So far, CANVAS is scheduled to be released in New York and Chicago on October 12, and Ft. Lauderdale and Phoenix on October 19 (watch for local listings).
It costs $20,000 to $40,000 to mount a publicity campaign in a city in order to
NAMI members are trying to raise the movie’s profile in
If the movie’s release is too small and ticket sales too low, the movie may sink out of sight into limited DVD circulation. Broad public education won’t be achieved, which would be everyone’s loss.
NAMI is biased of course, but the performances of the actors in the film are worthy of Oscar nominations.
Academy Award winner Marcia Gay Harden plays the mother who is stricken by schizophrenia. Emmy Award winner Joe Pantoliano, who starred in “The Sopranos,” as well as movies such as The Matrix and Midnight Run, sheds his usual tough guy/wise guy role for a powerful, sensitive portrayal of the husband and father. And 10-year-old Devon Gearhart—who once starred in a television
The third drama is like the legend of King Arthur, in which an unexpected hero tries to pull the sword Excalibur from a stone. In this case, the hero is Pantoliano, also known as "Joey Pants," who hopes to recruit knights in the entertainment industry to join the battle against stigma.
Pantoliano is convinced that his mother had undiagnosed, untreated bipolar disorder, which was the source of great turmoil within his family, which he recounted in his 2003 autobiography, "Who’s Sorry Now? The True Story of a Stand-Up Guy." For him, CANVAS awakened powerful emotions and a
Pantoliano is co-president of The Creative Coalition, the entertainment
Under his leadership, the coalition is preparing to add mental health advocacy to its agenda. He also is creating a separate vehicle called the "No Kidding, Me Too!" Coalition to enlist celebrities as spokespersons to the cause. The name reflects the exchange that often occurs when one person discloses their history of mental illness to another—a moment of anxious vulnerability that often is followed by reassuring affirmation that strikes a blow against stigma.
For years, NAMI and others in the mental health community have hoped and waited for someone in the entertainment community not only to disclose mental illness publicly, but also to be a constant voice and, especially, a leader, willing to take on the task of organizing other voices.
Will Joey Pants be the one to pull the sword from the stone? So far, he’s come closer than any other celebrity to date. And CANVAS is an excellent first step as part of a long campaign.