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New Film on Mental Illness Premieres

October 2006

You read about it here first.

NAMI members who attended a private screening at the NAMI convention this summer also saw it first—the new movie Canvas, starring Academy Award winner Marcia Gay Harden, Emmy-winner Joe Pantaliano, and Devon Gearhart.

On October 21-22, Canvas will have its official world premiere at the Hamptons International Film Festival in New York, the first step toward theatrical release.

Written and directed by NAMI member Joe Greco, the film is inspired by his family’s experience with mental illness.

A father and young son contend with the mother’s battle against schizophrenia. Hope alternates with frustration, while love overcomes stigma. After the mother is hospitalized, the father begins to build a sailboat that recalls a happier time in his life, while the son comes of age and finds relationships transformed.

Canvas is one of the few dramatic films that are authentic in their depiction of schizophrenia,” said NAMI executive director Mike Fitzpatrick, after it received an emotional standing ovation at the convention. ”It is both heart-breaking and heart-warming.”

“It has the potential to touch the general public even more than the movie A Beautiful Mind, which was itself a break-through, because it focuses not on a Nobel prize-winning mathematician genius, but on an ordinary family. It is a story that people can identify with.”

It also presents break-out role for Pantaliano, whose sensitive portrayal as the father is a dramatic departure from wise-cracking, bad-guy roles that he has played in films such as Risky Business and the television series The Sopranos.

Listen for the buzz. Keep your fingers crossed.  If a major movie studio picks up Canvas for broad public distribution, it will provide not just dramatic entertainment, but also public education.


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