Follow the five steps below to get the most out of your UnLonely Film Festival experience!
Step 1: Watch the film.
A portrait of Rwenshaun Miller and his fight to heighten mental health awareness in the black community. Puncturing stereotypes about masculinity and seeking to end stigma, Rwenshaun tells the story of his own bi-polar disease diagnosis during college in intimate and revealing barbershop conversations and on the road in his outreach activities.
About the Filmmaker
Working in the New York City area in various aspects of producing and directing, Anthony Bartlett is Creative Director and Lead Producer for UFR, a documentary film collective in Charlotte, North Carolina which combines “the cultural philosophies and oral traditions of Hip Hop, with the aesthetic utility of film to highlight the importance of the counter-narrative in redefining mainstream representations of people of color, and educate youth to speak truth to power.”
Did you set out to explore loneliness in your film and if so, what prompted this focus?
“We set out to start a discussion on Mental Health awareness within the Black Community. An oppressed group of individuals who often suffer in silence. And that silent suffering in our opinion is a deeper form of loneliness. We found that the societally marginalized can build solidarity in recognizing this particular type of loneliness, and we wanted them to know that it was ok to be lonely sometimes. And that feeling that way didn’t make you weak, that it actually was indicative of their deeper connection to humanity.”
Alternately, did you recognize a theme of loneliness as your project developed?
“As our project developed we recognized that opening up about our individual experiences made us feel less alone. So sharing this film with audiences could possibly help someone else suffering from mental health issues feel a little more connected.”
Did any of your viewers give you feedback that reflected this aspect of your film?
“Yes. Several audience members from previous screenings of the film came up to us immediately after and either shared their personal experiences with feeling alone or thanked us for our efforts. They recognized the importance of the conversation and just hearing it from someone who looked like them meant a lot. They would mention that our film gave them a few tools to take action, if and when they saw signs of mental health issues in friends or family members.”
What do you hope UnLonely Film Festival audiences, trying to make sense of loneliness and isolation and navigate a path forward, take from your film?
“I hope they take from “Black Friday a sense of purpose. That no matter how alone you may feel, no matter how dark it may get, you have a duty to make a change. That healing is possible if you take time and make room for it in your life.”
Any other information of backstory you want to share about your film?
“UFR is a documentary film collective out of Charlotte, NC, that combines the cultural philosophies and oral traditions of Hip Hop, with the aesthetic utility of film. Highlighting the importance of the “counter-narrative” in redefining mainstream representations of people of color, while educating our youth to speak truth to power.”
Step 2: Explore these things after watching the film.
- Did Rwenshawn’s story of hiding his mental illness and his feeling of isolation resonate with you? Have you talked about mental health issues in your family? Or do you have a sense that it is taboo? How can you start to break the taboo?
- One of the men featured in the film (D.J.) talked about how communication is breaking down with people communicating with those on Twitter who are three hours away instead of communicating with the people who are three feet away from them. Do you experience this issue with texting and other digital communications? Do you do anything in your personal life to keep in-person communication alive?
- Rwenshawn discussed how in the barbershop when you talk about an issue or problem you are having, 9 times out of 10, someone else has that same problem. Was there a time that you discussed a problem you had with someone and were surprised to learn they either were experiencing the same problem then or had experienced it in the past? Do you remember how that made you feel?
- Think about a time when you felt alone and in the midst of a mental or emotional crisis and were trying to hide the internal conflict from those around you. What are the key visual elements that come to mind? Sketch an image representing this time to you.
- Create a poster that expresses a similar message about mental health as the Let’s Talk About It campaign. Imagine the posters being held up in a community walk or a city protest –the font and style need to be graphically striking and the message needs to be clear and succinct. Once completed, share online with the tag #Let’sTalkAboutIt.
- Design and print a giveaway card, folded over in the shape of a table-tent, to be placed on tables at your local café or restaurant with suggestions for taboo topics to discuss. Such topics as mental health, pay/compensation, sexual abuse, politics, etc. If the local café doesn’t allow you to put them out on the tables, hold your own dinner party, distribute the cards around the table, and observe the results. How open are people to discussing thorny subjects if they are made to be part of a game or experience?
Our Try This page has even more creative expression inspiration!
Step 3: Join in the conversation about the film.
Your Support Helps!
We’re a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.