Highlight – Drunk On Too Much Life

Hello! It is the LAST weekend of the virtual festival (ends November 6th at 7:00 p.m.), so make sure to get in your final viewing before closing time! I still have a few films I hadn’t written capsule reviews on yet, so I’m going to try to finish those up PLUS talk about a special bonus screening we have on Saturday, November 12th, PLUS early next week I will reveal some stats & awards. Whew!

“It sounds very cliche to say that, you know, there’s a link between insanity and creativity. But I saw it. I saw that there was kind of an opening, there’s a lack of inhibitions, and there’s this kind of lateral thinking where you’re seeing these beautiful connections everywhere. That is fertile ground for anything creative.” The documentary Drunk On Too Much Life explores the beauty and the vision of madness. It follows Corrina, a young woman whose life was disrupted by intrusive thoughts and a psychotic episode, and her recovery, relapse, and recovery. Poetry, music, and art were a huge part of Corrina’s way out of the psych ward and back into connecting with life and others. She thought art was going to save the world, and she was going to be the one to bring that about. Her colorful and expressive drawings and paintings, songs, and writings are featured heavily in the film and help tell her story as much as any narrative.

Corrina and her family are on a quest to define her condition outside the diagnostic of a mental illness and to find treatment outside of a rotating cast of psychiatrists and medication. As well as art, other alternative techniques such as meditation, breathing exercises, peer and family support, and therapy all come into play. I don’t think Corrina’s diagnosis is ever specified. She experiences intense highs and lows, and at one point her mother asks a peer mentor if he believes in diagnoses like “bipolar dis—” and he actually cuts her off and says it’s not a label, but a pattern of symptoms and behaviors. This mentor has actually stopped taking medication, but he says he does “a thousand different things” to help instead.

This movie provides a unique outlook on mental illness. It touches a few times on the idea that Joseph Campbell expressed, “the psychotic drowns in the same waters in which the mystic swims with the delight”–that is, the fine line between delusions and profound and even psychic insights. In a shamanistic culture, a peer tells Corrina, she might be treated as a prophet or a seer, instead of locked up. The film doesn’t shy away from showing, however, that uncontrolled, Corrina’s illness can lead to drowning in her own dark thoughts to the point of catatonic states where she cannot function. I appreciated that while Drunk On Too Much Life offered no easy answers, it explored many different ways to understand mental illness. Corrina’s mother, who made the documentary, described it as “our search for a different story and language with which to understand hearing voices and seeing visions.”

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