Knowledge Network Premieres Two B.C. Docs on Bipolar Disorder

Burnaby, B.C. (April 13, 2011) Its manic highs have been described as more addictive than drugs; its depressive lows as hellish bottomless pits. In support of the Canadian Mental Health Association’s “Mental Health Week” from May 1-7, 2011, Knowledge Network is premiering two B.C. documentaries that focus on the stark realities of living with bipolar disorder – and the possibilities for hope.

B.C. PREMIERE – FAMILY MATTERS: SURVIVING THE BIPOLAR JOURNEY – Directed by Mary Frymire, May 3 at 9pm: A compassionate and timely documentary on the impact of mental illness within the family unit, Family Matters follows four Lower Mainland families as they struggle to support a loved one with Bipolar Disorder, one of the most commonly diagnosed mental illnesses. Ted’s daughter Kristy, 21, has just been told she has Bipolar Disorder. Both have difficulties accepting the diagnosis and the need to seek help. Theresa’s 27-year-old daughter Valerie was diagnosed several years ago. Now Theresa fears that Valerie might be repeating her own mother’s tragic struggle with depression. Melanie and Keith have been married 24 years and have two young sons. While Keith struggles with the most severe type of the disease, Melanie has been keeping the household together, sometimes by sheer force of will alone. Melanie finally begins to realize that the one person she’s forgotten to take care of is herself. Denise and Michael, married for 44 years and happily retired, are only now beginning to learn how Michael’s illness affected their daughter Samantha while she was growing up. Ultimately, these are all inspiring portraits of hope and survival — showing us the true meaning of love and family. (Canada, 2010, 56 minutes) www.marsentertainment.ca/familymatters/

Director Mary Frymire has a very personal connection to this story: both her mother and sister suffer from Bipolar Disorder. Mary is an award-winning local filmmaker with more than 25 years experience. She has developed, directed and produced documentary and dramatic projects in over 57 countries, working in four different languages. Her most recent film is For the Love of Elephants, for CBC Television’s “The Nature of Things.”

B.C. PREMIERE – NOT JUST A BAD DAY: LIVING WITH BIPOLAR DISORDER – Directed by Gillian Hrankowski, May 3 at 10pm: On the surface, Mike, Erin, and Martha appear to have little in common, but all live under the shadow of bipolar disorder (once known as manic depression), a complex mental illness marked by significant disturbances in mood. Mike is a charismatic young man whose partying lifestyle and abuse of recreational drugs foreshadow a severe manic episode that has him committed to a psychiatric ward. Erin is a young mom whose ability to cope with her new baby deteriorates as she swings between manic episodes and soul-crushing depressions. Martha is a divorced single mom who lost her career and marriage to a manic episode; with group therapy and medication, she is finally lifting herself out of a crippling two-year depression. Treating them all is Dr. Paul Termansen, a psychiatrist at Community Psychiatric Services on Vancouver’s North Shore, where the three attend his mood disorders program. With intimate access and great sensitivity, the film details their personal struggles with the emotional highs and lows of a disorder they must learn to manage in order to lead productive, balanced lives. (Canada, 2007, 50 minutes)

Director Gillian Hrankowski has been active in Vancouver’s film and television community for a decade, rising through the ranks at CBC Television in development and documentary acquisitions before leaving in 2004 to become an independent producer and director. In 2010, Gillian completed producing and writing her latest documentary, The Brothel Project, executive produced by Force Four Entertainment. She is currently in development on a documentary for Knowledge Network.

Family Matters and Not Just a Bad Day are both produced by Marsha Newbery of Mars Entertainment. Marsha’s previous films as a producer include The Rock and Roll Kid (directed by Bob Fugger), Tailor Made (directed by Len Lee) and Branded: Saving Our Town (directed by Carolyn Schmidt).

Storyville, Tuesday nights, is the place to see character-driven, creative documentaries on cultural, social and political issues from home and around the world.

Knowledge Network is where stories live that speak to our time. We are B.C.’s viewer-supported public broadcaster, providing commercial-free creative documentaries, arts and culture, and children’s programs from Canada and around the world. We play a vital role in supporting the independent production community in B.C. and the rest of Canada by commissioning, pre-licensing and acquiring documentary and children’s content for broadcast on Knowledge Network and Knowledge.ca

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