Mental Filmness -
A few people had the same response when I originally mentioned a film festival based solely on mental health: "Wouldn't that be too depressing?" The truth is, there are so many different approaches you can take with the topic, and a few of our most humorous films were actually about suicide. The Cremer Brothers' "Assisted Suicide" falls into that category.
"Assisted Suicide" is brilliant because it plays upon the central dilemma faced by most people who fantasize about suicide: how to actually do it? Lead character Kristen (played with the perfect mix of melancholia and apathy by Melissa Malone) has been brutally depressed for awhile now. But as she Googles and experiments around, she's running into a roadblock a lot of people who think about it do. How to actually accomplish the act? How do I tie a noose so it works? What if I injure myself while I jump off the roof and just end up in the hospital instead? Will slitting my wrists be too messy? And the ever-classic Googling of "How many of X pills does it take to kill yourself," which often disappointingly leads to suicide prevention and addiction recovery websites.
While there is something funny about Kristen's indecisiveness when it comes to methodology, it will probably also ring painfully true to people who have Googled around for suicide strategies. The clean, painless, and failsafe suicide is the Holy Grail of the clinically depressed everywhere, and just as elusive.
In the midst of this pondering, Kristen's friend Nancy (played with over-the-top perkiness by Diann Gogerty) drops in. This could easily lead to stereotypical "rescuing," but this film is too smart for that. Nancy goes all in with Kristen's plan, and wants to help her craft the perfect suicide note. Of course this is a subtle ploy on Nancy's part to find out Kristen's motive and try to offer alternatives, but she never offers platitudes and is never pushy or dismissive. Their personalities play off each other really well.
Nancy's "intervention" plays on another unintentionally humorous aspect of suicide: the publicity. In order for it not to be a meaningless act, one's suicide, and its reasons, should be broadcasted. Nancy advises Kristen to post the note on "both Facebook and Twitter.”
We are hoping this painfully funny and painfully true take on suicide will resonate with our audience and provide some much-needed levity.