Aperture Cinema - Winston Salem, NC | Kayla’s Picks: Mental Health Awareness
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Kayla’s Picks: Mental Health Awareness

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1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so it’s important now – perhaps more than ever before – to work together and support our communities. Understanding mental health issues through the lens of film is a great way raise awareness and build empathy for ourselves and others, while also staying home and safe. Here are six films that offer a nuanced look at mental health on a range of different issues.

Kayla, a/perture staff





paris, texas

Where to watch: The Criterion Channel
One of my favorite films ever, Paris, Texas tells the story of a man, experiencing a dissociative fugue, who is lost in the desert, trying to figure out who he is. The film sensitively confronts issues of personal identity, memory, fatherhood, escapism, and death. Harry Dean Stanton’s iconic portrayal, backed by Ry Cooder’s slide-guitar, makes for a wistful, longing look at what it means to be human





frozen II

Where to watch: Disney+
Before I watched this film during the first week of quarantine, I never thought I would be writing the sentence, “Frozen 2 contains one of the most accurate portrayals of depression on film I have ever seen.” And yet. Kristen Bell’s rendition of the song “The Next Right Thing” rings strikingly true (a tiny voice whispers in my mind / You are lost, hope is gone / But you must go on / And do the next right thing). Plus the film depicts a decidedly hopeful character progression through Elsa’s handling of a mental health crisis – from feeling uprooted from one’s sense of self, to confronting family secrets and past trauma, to rebuilding something beautiful after the flood.




Where to watch: Hulu & HBO Now
Everyone has fears and anxieties we’d rather keep hidden. This film asks the question, what happens when those parts of ourselves eventually rise to the surface? Jordan Peele delves deep on themes such as childhood trauma, internalized oppression, and the stigma surrounding mental illness, while framing these issues in a larger context of race, class, and the American psyche.





Where to watch: Hulu (May 2020)
I know, I had misgivings about it, too. But watching this, sitting in the front row at [unnamed local multiplex], was probably (one of) the best movie-going experiences I had last year. (Am I allowed to say that?) This movie is so much more than a biopic-musical-fantasy. It is a stark look at addiction, mental illness, and the road to recovery and self-acceptance. Have you hugged your inner child lately?



pain and glory

Where to watch: Hulu
When I saw this at a/perture, I sat in the middle of the second row of a sold-out screening in petit a/. After the last scene ended, every single person in the theater sighed. It’s really that good. The film offers a profound examination of aging, addiction, the human need to create, and grapples with the premise that art can help us endure the past to give our lives meaning.



horse girl

Where to watch: Netflix
Alison Brie stars in this eerily beautiful and unsettling film, but she also co-wrote the screenplay, which she based on her, her mother’s, and her grandmother’s personal experiences with depression and schizophrenia. Horse Girl seeks to offer a non-judgmental view of the intergenerational effects of mental illness, and leaves the viewer with a sense of what it might be like to not be in control of one’s own mind.