Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Off Label

I'm not entirely clear what the documentary Off Label is really about. I saw its 1st screening at the San Francisco International Film Festival. It shows us the intimate role that pharmaceuticals play in the lives of several people, such as a homeless man who makes a living as a human guinea pig & a woman who lives at a bigfoot museum & takes 20 medications a day. If there is a main focus, it is Mary Weiss, whose son committed suicide while in a study of anti-psychotic drugs. The documentary is contemplative & emphasizes moments of self-reflection by its subjects rather than narrative or facts. It is not for the squeamish. Besides Ms. Weiss's graphic description of her son's suicide, we see someone get a large tattoo & are shown grisly images of Iraq War victims.

Directors Michael Palmieri & Donal Mosher were present, & we learned that they got involved in the film after the producer showed them a rough cut & told them there was already funding. The audience raised many concerns during the Q&A. Andy Duffy, an Iraq War veteran who is profiled in the film, was also present. We saw him on screen suffering from PTSD & unable to receive the appropriate help from the VA, so the audience applauded when he told us he is now living in California & doing much better.

§ Off Label
directors, Michael Palmieri & Donal Mosher
USA, 2011, 80 min

55th San Francisco International Film Festival
Mon, Apr 30    6:30 / Kabuki
Tue, May 1    3:30 / Kabuki
Wed, May 2    9:00 / Kabuki

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