A Darned Good Movie

Posted on February 21, 2012 by Mike Riddell


Film Review
by Chris Hansen
Past Chair of the National Advisory Group to the Like Minds Like Mine Project
New Zealand delegate to United Nations for the development of the Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Consultant/Educator Intentional Peer Support


The Insatiable Moon- A Movie to put on your ‘Must see’ list

The Insatiable Moon is a powerful movie which questions the nature of that which is labeled ‘madness’, and confronts the prejudices and discrimination that run at the heart of many of our attitudes and communities. We are left wondering who is really mad- is it those who get the labels, or those who have the power to give them? What is the nature of spiritual experience? Who gets to decide what is spiritual and what is not? And how much do our attitudes, beliefs and behaviours deprive us of the richness of relationships with people who may not be like us- but who may have important insights and life lessons to gift us, should we be willing to open ourselves up…

In New Zealand, as in many Western nations, a good proportion of long-term psychiatric institutions were closed down in the ‘80s and ‘90’s. The people who had lived there had few of the social graces we take for granted, and were ejected into communities which were ill-equipped to include those who had been invisible for so long. For many, the isolation, exclusion and flagrant animosity they experienced were far worse than any distress that led them to being institutionalized in the first place, and their lives in the institutions themselves.

The Insatiable Moon introduces us to such a group, who are now living in a boarding house in a rapidly-gentrifying part of Auckland. Arthur’s mission in life is to get the word out that he is the second son of God. As Arthur wends his way into the hearts and lives of many middle-class New Zealanders with his guileless honesty, many of his friends and co-inhabitants of the boarding house find their presence is unwelcome in a community who conspire to effect their eviction.

Despite tragedy and disappointment, the community is challenged, relationships are transformed, and viewers are left with a sense of hope and possibility that has metamorphosed from darkness and despair.

This movie deftly weaves legend and spirituality, indigenous (Maori) culture, romance, death, and new beginnings into a compelling and memorable tale. There are some important underlying themes challenging social exclusion and discrimination, and even the value of traditional mental health treatment that make this movie a winner for mental health peers, activists, providers, community groups, churches- in fact any group of people interested in social inclusion.

More than that, though, The Insatiable Moon is just a darned good movie which will be enjoyed by a wide sector of the population. Well-known NZ actors Rawiri Paratene (who also starred in ‘Whale Rider’), Sara Wiseman, Ian Mune and Greg Johnson add to a credible cast. The Insatiable Moon has garnered a number of national and international festival awards (including 2011 ‘Best Foreign Film’ at Moondance).

I thoroughly recommend purchasing and viewing this movie, and taking the opportunity to use it as a forum for discussion and community development. Copies of the movie, Lunatic a documentary and other resources can be purchased at http://www.theinsatiablemoon.com.

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