Using film to educate

By Drum Digital
18 October 2013

A young Cape Town filmmaker, Garth Kingwill and his crew won the public and judges over with their film entry, entitled “I Choose Life”.

A young Cape Town filmmaker, Garth Kingwill and his crew won the public and judges over with their film entry, entitled “I Choose Life”, into this year’s annual Let’s Talk Mental Health Film Competition – a joint partnership with Pharma Dynamics, the Film Industry Learner Mentorship (F.I.L.M) programme and the Mental Health Information Centre.

These aspiring moviemakers were challenged by Pharma Dynamics (a leading supplier of central nervous system medication) to produce a series of short-films on three critical mental health issues facing South Africa. The topics included: depression and unemployment, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depression and suicide in teens.

The Let’s Talk campaign is part of the prevention-minded pharmaceutical company’s approach to shatter the stigma around mental health issues and promote open dialogue.

The winning film features a number of suicide victims for whom remedy seems to be too late as they contemplate better choices they could have made. In this abstract, yet haunting account of the hopelessness experienced by people on the brink of suicide, the imagery and language resonates particularly with younger audiences, while effectively highlighting not only that help is available but that we need to talk about mental illness.

The theme of the film resonated with Kingwill as he once lost a close friend to suicide.

“Teen suicide is a huge problem in our country. Research shows that suicide accounts for 1 in 10 deaths from non-natural causes in youngsters, and for every young person who commits suicide in South Africa, 20 attempt to.

“I’m delighted our team won the Let’s Talk Mental Health Film Competition and hope the film will raise awareness about the tragedy of suicide and prompt an open and frank discussion amongst teenagers about mental health issues,” says Kingwill.

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