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2017 National Council Film Festival

The National Council Film Festival features films and documentaries that inspire you, make you think, and remind you why you went into mental health and substance use care.


Beyond Silence (supported by Sunovion Pharmaceuticals)

Meet Jeff, Lauren and Lloyd, three different people who share one common experience — speaking up for mental health changed their lives. The film provides a glimpse into their lives and their diagnoses — ultimately weaving together a story about how speaking up is key to living well. Beyond Silence, directed by Shaul Schwarz and executive produced by Demi Lovato, celebrates the strength, perseverance and dedication of these courageous individuals determined to break through the silence often associated with mental illness and help others along the way.


Generation Found


From the creators of the groundbreaking film, THE ANONYMOUS PEOPLE, comes GENERATION FOUND, a powerful story about one community coming together to ignite a youth addiction recovery revolution in their hometown. Devastated by an addiction epidemic, Houston faced the reality of burying and locking up its young people at an alarming rate. And so in one of the largest cities in America, visionary counselors, law school dropouts, aspiring rock musicians, retired football players, oil industry executives and church leaders came together to build the world’s largest peer-driven youth and family recovery community.Independently filmed over two years, GENERATION FOUND takes an unprecedented and intimate look at how a system of treatment centers, sober high schools, alternative peer groups and collegiate recovery programs can exist in concert to intervene early and provide a real, tested and long-term alternative to the “War on Drugs.” It is not only a deeply personal story, but one with real-world utility for communities struggling with addiction worldwide.


Paper Tigers


“Stressed brains can’t learn.”

That was the nugget of neuroscience that Jim Sporleder, principal of a high school riddled with violence, drugs and truancy, took away from an educational conference in 2010. Three years later, the number of fights at Lincoln Alternative High School had gone down by 75% and the graduation rate had increased five-fold. Paper Tigers is the story of how one school made such dramatic progress.

Following six students over the course of a school year, we see Lincoln’s staff try a new approach to discipline: one based on understanding and treatment rather than judgment and suspension. Using a combination of vérité and revealing diary cam footage, Paper Tigers is a testament to what the latest developmental science is showing: that just one caring adult can help break the cycle of adversity in a young person’s life.


No Letting Go


Based on a true story, No Letting Go is a feature drama that follows one family’s journey to understand their son Tim’s mental health disorder. It powerfully gives voice to millions of families who suffer alone and in silence. This poignant film honestly depicts the potentially devastating impacts of mental health disorders, which affect one in five children in the United States every year.


Touched with Fire

Touched with Fire stars Katie Holmes and Luke Kirby as two poets with bipolar disorder whose art is fueled by their emotional extremes. When they meet in a treatment facility, their chemistry is instant and intense, driving each other’s mania to new heights. They pursue their passion, which breaks outside the bounds of sanity, swinging them from fantastical highs to tormented lows until they ultimately must choose between sanity and love. 

Inspired by the filmmaker’s own struggles overcoming bipolar disorder, Paul Dalio wrote, directed, edited and scored his feature film debut, which also includes performances by Griffin Dunne, Christine Lahti and Bruce Altman. The film is produced by Jeremy Alter and Kristina Nikolova and executive produced by Spike Lee


Of Two Minds

Take your best day…and your darkest moment…and multiply by a million. Of Two Minds is an award-winning feature documentary from the creative team behind Wordplay, IOUSA, Superheroes and These Amazing Shadows. The film explores the extraordinary lives, struggles and successes of a few of the more than five million Americans living with bipolar disorder. Personal stories of harrowing events, medical mazes, discrimination and the effects of social stigma blend together to create a compelling look at a generation coming out of the “bipolar closet.” Of Two Minds puts an authentic human face on bipolar disorder, providing an intimate, sometimes painful, and sometimes painfully funny look at those who live in its shadows…our parents and children, our friends and lovers…and ourselves. 




Borderline posterPeople say having borderline personality disorder is equivalent to walking through life with a “do not resuscitate” order. In popular culture, it is often caricatured with shrieking outbursts, bleeding eyeliner, dark mascara and slashed wrists. This film does not do that.

BORDERLINE is the first documentary film to capture the lived experience of borderline personality disorder.

About two percent of the U.S. population have the disorder. Eighty percent of these people attempt suicide, with 10 percent completing suicide. Approximately 25 percent of people with addictions and 25 percent of people with eating disorders in in-patient settings meet the diagnostic criteria for borderline personality disorder. Few are diagnosed.

This film follows one person with borderline personality disorder who gives us access to her inner world. Regina is a 45-year old woman – ‘outta work and outta love.’ Witty and self-aware, she makes observations that are uncomfortable but astute, reacts on impulse, attacks, distracts, meditates, trips over herself, laughs, burns bridges, makes social gaffes, apologizes, loses her cool, philosophizes and remains dogged in her search for recovery. But, the human intimacy she needs most to recover, her symptoms threaten to destroy.