Salon Talks: Criminalizing mental health

When the largest population of severely mentally ill people are being "treated" in the prison system, there's no question that the system is fundamentally broken, filmmaker Jedd Wider told Salon's Amanda Marcotte on "Salon Talks."

It's the criminalization of mental illness in this country, as well as the pervasiveness of homelessness, and how often the two intersect, that inspired brothers Todd and Jedd Wider, veteran documentary filmmakers, to undertake their directorial debut with "God Knows Where I Am." It tells the story of Linda Bishop, who later in life was diagnosed with severe bipolar psychosis. Her life ended after four months of living in an abandoned farmhouse, surviving off of apples and rainwater, during one of the coldest New Hampshire winters.

When her body was finally discovered, so was a diary, documenting her day-to-day experiences, which the Wider brothers developed into this film. "It's an experiential kind of documentary," Todd said. "We want you to feel something, we want empathy."

Todd acknowledged that they are generally "drawn to topics that have social, political resonance," and often, the impetus begins from a place of anger. In "God Knows Where I Am," the failings of the mental health system is the central culprit.

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