On February 26, over 200 community members joined us at the Barrymore Theatre for a special screening of the film, HOME – a beautiful story about a man living with a mental illness trying to rebuild his life. We were privileged to host writer/director, Jono Oliver, and lead actor, Gbenga Akinnagbe, and have them share a piece of their stories with us – both what brought them to making this film and what they have taken with them in doing it. And this, alongside a community debrief after the film helped the message of the film take a deeper hold in all who attended. Both Jono and Gbenga were extremely grateful to be a part of this event, and wanted to thank the audience for truly embracing the spirit and message of the film.
The inspiring independent film, Home, stars actor Gbenga Akinnagbe, known for his role as Chris Partlow on The Wire. Akinnagbe plays Jack, a man living with schizophrenia whose goal is to move out of the group home where he resides and into a home of his own. In doing so, he hopes to salvage his relationship with his young son, reestablish his life and try to achieve some sense of normalcy. We see the world through Jack’s eyes, which allows us to both root for him and fear that he may not, in fact, be ready for his own place. Just a year ago, Oliver found himself up against Academy Award nominee Lee Daniels and Oscar winner Steve McQueen for the directing prize during the NAACP’s annual Image Awards. Home also won a 2014 SAMSHA Voice award, 2014 Prism award for Best Feature Film, and 14 festival awards. Not bad for a first-time feature filmmaker.
Much of the success from the screening can be attributed to our community partners and sponsors who really helped us spread the word in the community and get people through the doors. These partnerships have allowed us the opportunity to engage with many new members in our community, furthering our mission and work by spreading the message of NAMI and raising awareness around mental illness in the community. We are looking forward to all of our future work and collaboration with these partners and hope to continue expanding our reach deeper into the communities we serve.
Since the screening, there’s been many powerful reactions and gratitude for bringing the film into the light and many are working with us to not only do more screenings, but help us to spread the word about the film’s message beyond the walls of the theatre. In this effort, NAMI Wisconsin will be putting together a screening kit to allow for other NAMI state and affiliate organizations throughout the country as well as our partnering organizations to bring screenings to as many local communities as possible. July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month and we wish to showcase the screening nationwide to help further the message of not only the film, but also of the importance of hope.
A huge thank you to our community sponsors and partners!
Salvation Army, Madison Area Urban Ministry, The Road Home, YWCA, Madison Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, NAACP Dane County, Madison Network of Black Professionals, Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups, Urban League Young Professionals, Urban League of Greater Madison, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Porchlight Inc, Sankofa Behavioral & Community Health, Madison Area Technical College Occupational Therapy program, The Madison Chapter of The Links, 100 Black Men of Madison, African American Communication and Collaboration Council