Extra Ordinary People
2007, 109:00 minutes, colour, English
Extra Ordinary People is a compelling, feature-length documentary that shares diverse stories of courage and suffering, dignity and hope from individuals who’ve been through the special pain of mental illness and have emerged determined to reclaim their whole lives. Their collective response to their experiences illustrates a shift in attitude about mental illness that regards recovery as an achievable outcome rather than simple accommodation.
However, it turns out that the single greatest barrier to recovery for people dealing with mental health issues is the stigma imposed on them by a fearful and misinformed public and often internalized by the mentally ill individuals themselves.
In Extra Ordinary People, producer/director Laura Sky has found a memorable and engaging group of men and women who speak candidly about their experiences. Those participating include:
Halim Amini who, following the death of his son after a persistent depression, has directed his energies to helping his Afghan-Canadian community face and respond to the reality of mental illness.
Theresa Claxton has prevailed in a life long struggle against mental illness by becoming a peer advocate and community mental health consultant working on behalf of people who live with mental illness and addiction.
John Dick was once told by a mental health worker that he could not expect to achieve much in his life but today he defends the rights of others in a mental health facility and is a hero to his wife and children.
The stories shared by this remarkable group reveal depths of wisdom and understanding that will impress the viewer with the strength and grit of people who battle everyday of their lives against cruel and intractable forces – not simply the pain of their illness, but the unexamined prejudice imposed on them by the rest of us. Extra Ordinary People challenges us to lift the heavy weight of stigma we have imposed on this blameless community.
Production of Extra Ordinary People was commissioned by the Central East Public Education Strategy Committee, a group of mental health services and agencies, and will be used as a tool kit in its effort to tackle the persistent scourge of stigma and discrimination directed at people who struggle with mental illness and mental health issues.
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