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After years of consideration, documentary filmmaker Susan Smiley decided she was finally ready to turn the camera on her own family because she felt she had an important story to tell. The result became out of the shadow, the story of her family’s secret struggle to deal with her mother’s schizophrenia within the confines of the public health system. The film went on to achieve great acclaim, and is now widely considered to be the most insightful and educational film ever made about schizophrenia and the humanity behind this very confusing illness.

out of the shadow is a provocative and courageous film, offering unprecedented insight into the day to day frustrations of the schizophrenia, not only for the person who suffers from it, but also for family and caregivers. It also addresses overarching issues such as the public health system, the role of medications, ethical care of people who suffer from serious and debilitating mental illnesses and potential for recovery.

The film continues to  have a tremendous impact on viewers, providing much-needed insights to psychiatrists, case managers, social workers, educators, consumers and their families. Advocacy organizations such as NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and MHA (Mental Health America) have hailed the film as a critical tool for raising public awareness and have sponsored hundreds of screenings nationwide. The film is has been educating policy makers about the realities, issues and needs of America’s severely mentally ill population. Screenings for policymakers have been held in Washington, DC, Sacramento, CA, Albany, NY, and Springfield, IL. Due to it’s unprecedented insights, it is helping to dispel stigma and misconceptions surrounding serious mental illnesses.

out of the shadow had it’s national premiere at SILVERDOCS: AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival, and it’s international premiere at the Vancouver International Film Festival. It then toured countless festivals across the United States and worldwide. It’s broadcast premiere was in 2006 on public television stations nationwide. It has been translated into nine languages and has aired in 12 countries. The film won NAMI’s prestigious Media Award and was a FREDDIE Award Finalist.