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PAFF Films Spotlights Mental Illness

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Love to Death cast, PAFF 2019

On February 15, 2019, The Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) premiered two back-to-back  films with the underlining theme of mental health.  For far too long mental health in the African American community has not been given the same support and advocacy as in other communities.  In fact, those with a mental illness are often dismissed with a joke, or stigmatized as being weak.  The films “Love to Death” and “#truth” changes the face of typical mental health sufferers, and allows the audience to think twice before they dismiss a love one’s cry for help. 

The first screening, “Love to Death,” was a sneak peek of a TV ONE’s television film, staring Malinda Williams, as Monica; Chrystee Pharris, as Courtney; and MC Lyte, as Tiffany; who play three different God fearing sisters.  The film follows Monica, who appears to have a history of not picking the right man and falls in love with Jackson, a normal blue-collar guy; played by McKinley Freeman.  The film shows subtle behaviors of Jackson’s bipolar symptoms, yet Monica is unable to see the signs.  As the audience got more comfortable with the film, some shouted, “oh he crazy,” yet in the film no actions were taken, which is also common in real life.  At the end of  the film, the family is left wondering if there was anything more they could have done to protect their sister.

The second screening was “#truth,” a timely narrative feature directed by Charles Murray of Netflix’s Luke Cage, and stars Dorian Missick, Simone Missick and Michael Beach.  #truth follows a disgraced journalist (Dorian Missick ) as he unfolds the circumstances of his cousin’s suicide.  Again, as in “Loved to Death,” signs were dismissed, largely due to family and friends having their own troubles and responsibilities, and helping somebody with a mental illness is another burden they rather not take on.   The back-to-back screenings helped to showcase what today’s mental illness sufferers look like.  For example, a person can be young, educated, and attractive, but if untreated mental illness can have deadly consequences. 

Find out more about PAFF by visiting their website at Paff.org.  Check TVONE‘s website for “Love to Death’s” schedule.

Moe N. Reed
A creative with a background in screenwriting and entertainment news.

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