A week that began with the shocking suicide of writer-producer Tony Scott is coming to an end with the DocuWeeks presentation of a moving documentary in which suicide is a specter that hangs over nearly all the main characters.
"Of Two Minds," one of five films that will screen during the final week of the International Documentary Association's three-week doc showcase at the Laemmle NoHo 7 in North Hollywood, is not a film about suicide. But in looking at a handful of men and women living with bipolar disorder, director-writers Doug Blush and Lisa Klein have deftly illuminated a world in which thoughts of taking one's own life constantly recur.
In fact, the film includes a couple of people who did commit suicide, though its focus is on a trio who are living with the condition.
There's a Hollywood makeup artist, Cheri Keating, who has weaned herself off medication; a Pasadena artist, Carlton Davis (left), who to the horror of his wife still has nostalgia for his drug-addicted, cross-dressing days; and a Philadelphia writer, Liz Spikol, who has chronicled her condition in print for years.
The stories are gripping and scary, but always told with honesty and humor by subjects who have endured years of the highest highs and the lowest lows. At a reception on DocuWeeks' opening night, Blush told TheWrap that he and Klein, who are married, had filmed their subject over the course of years, and always had to be ready to rush to film when crises arose or critical moments took place in their subjects' lives.
Most of the key figures in "Of Two Minds" are women, which fits with what might be an informal theme of the final week of DocuWeeks' Los Angeles presentation. (A parallel presentation of the same films in New York began a week earlier ended on Thursday.)
Of the four other films in this week's program, three are focused on female subjects. Eugene Martin's "The Anderson Monarchs" follows an African-American girls' soccer team from inner-city Philadelphia. Nicole Karsin's "We Women Warriors" focuses on three women in Colombia who try to use nonviolent resistance to survive in a country whose indigenous population is threatened by warfare between drug traders, guerillas and paramilitary. And Mai Iskander's "Words of Witness" looks at the recent turmoil in Egypt through the eyes of a young female journalist.
The final DocuWeeks film is Macky Alston's "Love Free or Die," which chronicles the life and activism of Anglican bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in Christendom.
All five films will screen twice a day at the NoHo 7 through next Thursday, with many of the screenings followed by Q&A sessions with the filmmakers. DocuWeeks serves as an Oscar-qualifying showcase, making all of its films eligible for the 85th Academy Awards.