Evelyn

So last Friday I arranged for a film to be shown near to where I live. The film is called Evelyn and it’s special, very special.

It all started about 6 weeks ago. I had been introduced to the film by my friend Catherine. The film is not on general release but screenings can and have been arranged in different venues up and down the country. After seeing the trailer and reading about it, I just knew that I had to get this film shown on Teesside.

Through Twitter I was able to get the contact details for the film production company and got a commitment that we could show the film. Great – we just needed a venue! Catherine saw to that and within 48 hours Team Evelyn was born. We added another 2 members to the team and began promoting the screening and spreading the word.

The film is by director Orlando Von Einsiedel, an award winning director who has produced a number of award winning documentaries which tackle social issues. For this film, he comes in front of the camera, along with his siblings and family to talk about his brother Evelyn.

14 years ago Evelyn took his life after living with mental illness. For over 10 years the family very rarely talked about Evelyn’s death and the impact that it had on each of them. A conversation between Orlando and his sister led to the conclusion that it was something that they needed to do, otherwise they were never going to be able to come to terms with their grief.

They realised that they needed to create the right space and environment to be able to talk about Evelyn so a series of walks were planned in different parts of the country. These were Evelyn’s favourite walks. The 3 siblings are joined on different walks by their parents and Evelyn’s best friends.

I really cannot find the words to do justice to the power and emotion of the film. The impact of some of the scenes are still sinking in 3 days later. It deals with a very difficult subject in such an honest and open way. It’s heart wrenching and emotional but also life-affirming. There are scenes that will make you cry and conversations and scenes that will make you laugh. On top of this the scenery and soundtrack are stunning.

We had about 40 people who attended the screening, the vast majority of whom had their own reasons for attending. We invited Dr Heather Sutherland to speak at the end of the screening. Dr Heather lost a sibling to suicide and she was able to talk about her own experiences and the work she is doing to promote awareness. This led to conversations from audience members about their experiences. It was a special and emotional night.

I was extremely proud to be part of Team Evelyn and to bring this film to Teesside. The area has one of the highest rates of male suicide in the country and far too many of us know someone who has been directly or indirectly affected. I even went onto local radio with Catherine to talk about the screening. This was something I have always tried to get out of but I wanted to talk about Evelyn and I found it a lot less daunting to talk about something I was passionate about and inspired by.

The good news for you guys is that you don’t have to go too far to find a screening. The BBC announced last week that as part of Mental Health Awareness Week, Evelyn will be screened on Sat 18th May, 10.45pm on BBC2.

I can’t recommend this film highly enough. It really is “a film that could save lives”.