Being John Cadigan: Life with schizophrenia

Two worlds featuring blurring boundaries – that of the rational and the irrational – stand alongside art. All together, they coexist in a different kind of film, scheduled for screening as part of this year’s Athens international film festival, «Premiere Nights.» In collaboration with the University Research Institute of Psychiatric Health, «People Say I’m Crazy» (2003) will be screened tomorrow at the Attikon cinema at 8 p.m. Artist and director John Cadigan, the film’s creator, will give a speech, while a number of his artworks will also be on display. Cadigan suffers from schizophrenia, a condition he was diagnosed with about 10 years ago, when he was 20 years of age. The film was shot on Cadigan’s initiative with the support of his sister, also a film director. An autobiographical movie, the project aims to give audiences the opportunity to share Cadigan’s own experience with schizophrenia, showing the reality of this harsh condition in all its dimensions. This is a documentary in which schizophrenia appears and develops in the mind of a man coming from a middle-class American family, a graduate of a fine arts school with a keen interest in social affairs and sports. In his film, Cadigan goes down a realistic and genuine road in order to show all the difficulties he is faced with, together with his family and friends. He presents the role that his family are asked to play – this includes his sisters and his parents – and shows how their strong support helps in the treatment of his condition. At the same time Cadigan follows his relationships with other people, the possibilities he has for accessing psychological facilities, his chances of re-entering society, and being productive. Cadigan’s fears and paranoias are based on reality; this is not a man who imagines things, but instead, someone who faces great difficulties in dealing with the negative thoughts that arise in daily life. The film also makes the case for the relationship between art and illness, demonstrating the role that art plays in relation to Cadigan’s mental condition, as well as his life in general. According to specialists at the University Research Institute of Psychiatric Health, the film brings together two worlds, the rational and the irrational, ultimately symbolizing them through the power of emotion and the passion of excess. Attikon-Cinemax Class, 19 Stadiou, tel 210.322.8821.

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