BCC Evolution's Mental Health Film Festival
Mental health is a hard subject to talk about. Kelli Hansen, founder of the Denver-based non-profit BCC Evolution is looking to change that.
On September 21st, she hosted the first annual Mental Heath and Suicide Awareness Film Festival. A night of boxed wine, independent films, and inspirational speakers made for a night that was as moving as it was healing.
Kicking off the fest was Kelli’s own film introducing her organization, which can be viewed here. It tells the story of what led her to start her non-profit, which has now been operating for over a year. BCC Evolution offers first aid classes focusing on mental health, care packages for the homeless, backpacks with school supplies for children, along with several more programs and events that only continue to expand. For only being around for a year, it’s inspiring to see how much good the organization has done.
Next was a documentary about trauma titled The Light, directed by Brad Mason. It follows two people that experienced traumatic events along with the anxieties that can branch off from experiences such events. One is a man, a victim of a robbery, found himself having flashbacks and panic attacks in the weeks after. The other story follows an older man talking about his trauma from being diagnosed with cancer as a teenager and what kind of anxieties that followed. Both found solace in massage therapy, which the film serves as an advocate for.
The next film was a narrative story entitled The Lost Ones, directed by Benjamin Rand and starring Dawn Bower. Beautifully shot and tenderly told, it tells the story of a mother who lost her son, and looks to commit suicide. Though it clocked in at just under 15 minutes, it could’ve been feature length while maintaining intense audience attention. After the film finished, the sniffling throughout the audience (including our own) was hard to not notice.
Listening to the filmmakers tell the behind the scenes of the process of the film made the experience even more emotionally charged. Fearlessly raw and endlessly real, it was by far the most impactful of the night.
Last of films was Gabe, which shone light on a place people often forget, that being the mental health of men, especially athletes. There is unfortunately still a stigma with men being emotional, which leads to higher rates of suicide and mental illness. Though it certainly wasn’t an easy watch, it was enlightening to see a side of depression that is rarely discussed or even acknowledged.
Closing the event was the keynote speaker, Ethan Fisher. He told his story of his disheveled youth, which related closely with the story told in Gabe. A series of drug and alcohol binges, bad decisions, and being the cause of a fatal accident while drunk driving led to him moving his life to a more positive place, and now gives speeches across the country, reaching specifically to child and high school level athletes.
At the end of the night, watching everyone get up from their plush theater seats, the energy was quite different than the lighthearted buzzing that started off the night. It felt as everyone had left with something, whether it was as complex as a complete introduction to what living with mental health entails, or as simple as hearing stories from people in the community with experience in mental health. It’s fantastic to see someone put together such a unique and important event, and we look forward to watch BCC Evolution as it grows and continues to do good in the community.