Netherlands — An award-winning mental health-focused film screened in the Netherlands, followed by a panel discussion with local experts.
“Coming Up for Air” will be screened on Tuesday, January 17th at the Holland Momentum Center, 345 W. 14th St., The Netherlands. According to a press release, the feature-length drama will focus on the important role caregivers play in promoting the health of their families.
Free events are open to the public. Beginning at 5:30 PM, the movie starts at 6:00 PM. This is followed by a Town Hall discussion with a local mental health professional and Roger Rapoport, the film’s producer and co-writer.
According to Rapoport, “Coming Up for Air” centers around nationally-ranked college divers who are struggling to balance schoolwork and diving. Mental health professionals, law enforcement, coaches, and athletes were interviewed during the making of the film.
Rapoport said the film’s cast and crew are primarily from the Midwest, with some coming from the Netherlands and the Grand Haven area. He said that he had painted something similar to the events.
“We brought this up because we thought it was relevant and exemplary of the special pressure athletes have, but the problem is far more pervasive than we thought,” Rapoport said. Turns out, “(the COVID-19 pandemic) has created a lot of demand since movies were released for mental health support, especially in colleges.”
Kate Thomsen, a 2001 graduate of Holland High School and professor of theater at Western Michigan University, is one of many West Michigan actors featured in “Coming Up for Air.”
Thomsen said of the film, “I feel like it shows real people who are dealing with their mental health in a very open way.” I think it’s handled in a way that emphasizes the amount of love.”
Thomsen moved to Holland midway through his sophomore year of high school and was soon cast in a Holland High production of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Her challenging theater work, which Thomsen experienced during her high school years, helped shape the rest of her life, she said.
Thomsen and many of the Coming Up for Air actors previously worked together on a film called Pilot Error, written and co-produced by Rapoport. Thomsen said it allowed for a “family atmosphere on set” for the film.
“It felt like a family working together on a project that was important to us,” said Thomsen.
According to the release, “Coming Up for Air” has won 7 Best Picture Awards at festivals around the world and 20 other accolades. Locations were in Holland, Grand Haven, Muskegon, Ludington, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor and Milwaukee. The diving scenes were filmed in Donald B. Cannum National Park at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
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Panelists participating in the discussion are:
- Mikaela Andrea, Dutch Behavioral Health
- Lynne Doyle, Ottawa County Community Mental Health
- Survivor McKenna Grennan
- Roger Rapoport, film producer and writer
- Michele Sampson and Amanda Sheffield, Ottawa County Crisis Intervention Team
- Mallory Timmer, Ottawa Community School Network Coordinator at Dutch Public School West Primary School
- Jenna Vipond, Momentum Center
“This is one of those rare films that explores topics ranging from complex relationships between parents and adult children to suicide, from athleticism to homelessness, from depression to recovery, with compassion, clarity and truth.” You can’t sensationalize the problem or paint a one-sided victim or villain,” said Robert Sheehan, executive director of the Michigan Community Mental Health Association. “This film offers insight into the lives of all of us as we live with and recover from mental illness.”
The Holland Momentum Center sponsors this event. The Center is a grassroots movement to create stigma-free communities. Host some community conversations. Grand Haven is also home to the Momentum Center.
More information on “Coming Up for Air” is available online at comingupforairmovie.com.
— Contact reporter Evan Sasiela at email@example.com. follow him on twitter @Salsa Evan.