Screened Wednesday 20th September 2020, 3pm (BST).
"Dr Sonia Soans*, who first told us about this film and is co-hosting this screening with us, describes the film as follows:
15 Park Avenue (2005) is an English language art film set in Calcutta and Bhutan. Directed by award-winning director Aparna Sen, the film features known Bengali and Bollywood actors. The dialogue of the film is primarily in English with a little bit of Bengali, Hindi and Tamil thrown in. The story revolves around Mitali - a woman in her 30's who has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, her older sister - a physics professor, their mother and Charu - the domestic help. The story looks at mental illness and its effect on the individual and their family. In the absence of national health service and limited mental health services, families are often left to rely on folk wisdom and each other. Issues of caste, class, marriage, caregiving, divorce and Indian middle-class anxieties are interwoven into the story.
While the mechanisms of sensation are known to psychology, the mechanism of perception remains contested. Psychiatric diagnosis offer explanations of 'faulty', perceptions and beliefs. Users/survivors challenge these diagnoses on the basis of not representing their experience adequately. Schizophrenia is understood to be a break in reality. The hallucinations a client experiences are put down to neurochemical imbalances, trauma and genetics. The term itself means split mind, denoting the fragmented thoughts a person experiences. However, for users/survivors, who challenge these definitions psychiatric language does not adequately represent the complexity of the experience. The film 15 Park Avenue attempts to ask similar questions around reality, trauma and the impact of mental illness on the individual and their family. A brief mention of physicist Erwin Schrödinger and quantum physics during the film hint at the possibility of an alternative reality."
The film is 116 minutes long, and we will pause the screening midway to talk about it for a little while. We should finish at 5:30 pm (BST). The film contains several unpleasant scenes that may be difficult to watch. Yet, we hope that we can create a brave space**: share personal experiences, ask uneasy questions, type our anger and sorrows, share resources and songs, or simply say our peace. We invite everyone to gently consider the feelings and possible experiences of everybody who joins us. During this interrupted screening, we won’t see you, you won’t see us, we will simply write to each other.
If you would like to join us, please drop us an email by Saturday 19th September the latest. We will share with you a link to the streaming platform one hour before the screening starts on Sunday.
*Sonia Soans is a critical psychologist and a member of the Asylum Magazine editorial collective. Her field of study is the gendered representations of addiction and its relation to media and violence. She dedicates much work to critique the stigma surrounding mental illness and to highlight social issues that are often relegated to the background.
**We first heard of brave spaces at Mad Studies Birmingham, where it was kindly presented as an alternative to safe spaces by Allison Joseph. We suggest here our very own understanding.
The event is free and will take place online via the platform Metastream. You will need a good internet connection and one device, either computer, laptop, tablet or Chromebook (smartphones not supported, unfortunately). You do not need to open an account on this platform, but you will need to provide a name/nickname to enter the streaming room and the written text-only chat. We recommend using Firefox or Chrome browsers which may require to install an extension and to avoid Safari as Metastream does not support it.
The copy of the film we will be screening this time is not audio-described and has no captions. English subtitles will be provided for the bits of dialogue that are not in English. We are not planning to record the session or the written discussion on the chat. We are still learning how to make our gatherings. If you have any suggestions for how we can improve, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we'll do our best to accommodate, this time and in future."