If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 across the United States at 1-800-273-8255. For Spanish, call 1-888-628-9454. For those who are deaf or hard of hearing, dial 711 first.
“Hey, it’s me. The one person you can’t get a break from.”
It’s a familiar voice, an iconic one. The famous narrative voice of Carrie Bradshaw on the HBO television series “Sex and the City,” the voice of Sarah Jessica Parker, is quintessential New York. And as the city fights its way back from the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, she’s the voice inside your head.
“This came from an idea to express the inner monologue that so many of us were really attuned to more than ever,” filmmaker Ezra Hurwitz told Changing America. “That voice was louder and more unwavering than it had ever been for so many of us.”
“Inside & Outwards” is a short film narrated by Parker that raises awareness of mental health during the coronavirus pandemic. Released online today on World Suicide Prevention Day, the 5-minute film follows the highs and lows of New Yorkers quarantined within their homes.
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“The film to me shows that maybe we’re not in the same boat but we’re in the same body of water,” said Matt Kudish, the executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of New York City (NAMI-NYC). “People can find hope just in that alone. The message and the film, the final product, and even that people are willing and hungry to come together and do this.”
What started as a way for Hurwitz to get out of his own head and vent about his feelings of isolation turned into a celebration of vulnerability and resilience. After several Zoom meetings, he and producers Bethanie Schwartz, Lauren Tuttman and Marissa Velez, from the women-owned production agency HunterPark, filmed the story over Memorial Day weekend as coronavirus cases surged around them.
“This film came together in the true spirit of remote collaboration, underscoring the film’s theme of connectedness amidst isolation – being ‘alone together,’” said producer Bethanie Schwartz in a release. “Our incredible roster of talent generously lent their time and passion, with a common goal of uplifting viewers while inspiring awareness and support to all those struggling with mental health as a result of the pandemic.”
The film features music from the recently released album by Sufjan Stevens and Lowell Brams, “Aporia,” and performances by Sara Mearns, principal dancer of the New York City Ballet; Dharon Jones from the Broadway revival of “West Side Story;” choreographer and activist Emma Portner; artist and musician Ehlie Luna; Tony-nominated actor and dancer Robert Fairchild; actor, model and musician Gabriel Kane Day-Lewis; visual artist Brianna Lance; artist Jasmine Rice, Carlos Gonzalez from Steven Spielberg’s remake of “West Side Story” and artist and model Maira Barriga. Each performer was filmed individually and outdoors, with the set sanitized between each performance.
“Every single one of those performers had been and is still furloughed, unemployed and unable to do and express themselves in the way they are used to and also depend on for their livelihood,” Hurwitz said, adding that the props and visuals were informed by the talent and their own experiences.
NAMI-NYC saw a 60 percent increase in people reaching out for help in the last two weeks of March alone, Kudish said, with demand holding steady throughout the summer. Research shows that Americans are struggling more than people in other wealthy nations during the coronavirus pandemic, with marginalized communities bearing the brunt of the burden.
“When you give people permission to recognize that it’s ok not to be ok and that others are struggling, and when you talk about your struggles it gives people permission to talk about their own,” said Kudish. “[The film] marks this moment in time in a way that I just think is so important, to recognize all the various elements of this pandemic: the fear and the anxiety, the sadness and the isolation, the hope and the inspiration, the beauty and the resilience.”
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