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One of Five: Families Coping with Mental Disorders

Distributed by Filmakers Library, 124 East 40th Street, New York, NY 10016; 202-808-4980
Produced by Justin Choma Zimmerman and Dave Brock
Director n/a
VHS, color, 28 min.
College - Adult
Psychology, Social Work

Reviewed by Carolyn Walden, Mervyn H. Sterne Library, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Highly Recommended  Highly Recommended   
Date Entered: 2/4/2004

This film features five families “caring for an emotionally handicapped, or alcohol-addicted member.” We meet them as Gammi with Alzheimer’s, Dale with schizophrenia, Jenny, the daughter of an alcoholic mother, Shane, the son of a recovering alcoholic mother, and Mike, a child with Down’s syndrome. The film allows the viewer to see a realistic snapshot through the eyes of the family members and through short vignettes with the members with Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, and Down’s syndrome. The film portrays each family sequentially in three segments moving from an illustrative introduction to a segment featuring typical behaviors or responses from the family members and closing with segments that share a depth of understanding that has developed as a result of the care giving responsibilities.

Rather than move smoothly through each vignette, the filmmaker decided to make abrupt shifts from family to family with a quick black screen that allows the viewer to shift his response to the next family disorder. The accompanying music is exceptionally appropriate, with poignant and haunting melodies in the introductory segment followed by silence in the middle segment and hopeful, bright, and peaceful sounds in the closing segment. Although, a short film, it adequately conveys a range of emotions of family members from realistic loss and sadness to a sense of hope grounded in love.

This film is an excellent addition for collections in psychology and social work. It is also highly instructive for family members who are caregivers for persons with mental disorders. Highly recommended