Jellysmoke - Los Angeles Film Festival

Mental instability is no laughing matter and the power of mental illness can be overwhelming. In the world premiere of the film, Jellysmoke, written, directed, and produced by Mark Banning, he takes us inside the world of a man named Jacob who struggles with a bi-polar disorder and the effect it has on his relationships with friends and family. The film stars Michel Ealy (Barbershop, Barbershop2, Their eyes were watching God) as Jacob with a talented supporting cast.

Jascob tries to maintain a grasp on reality.

The movie opens with Jacob at the beach in the middle of the night. His facial expressions range from confusion to despair. He picks up a large rock and takes it with him as he departs from the beach. In the next scene he is standing across the street from an apartment building an after a moment of thought, he hurls the rock through one of the windows. He picks up another rock and repeats the previous action. He continues this course of action until he is arrested and later placed in a mental hospital. The movie picks up after his stay in the mental hospital and his struggle to cope with life on the outside. The movie flashes back to key moments of his stay at the hospital throughout the rest of the movie. Jacob lives with his mother, who loves her son dearly but blinds herself to the harsh reality of her son's mental state. She deals with him from a state of denial, which further strains communication between them. His older brother, not fully understanding how to deal with a bi-polar disorder, just thinks his brother is faking his illness to avoid responsibility and tries to get him to 'snap out of it'. His best friend Paul tries to be very supportive and compassionate even to the point in one scene in the movie he puts a love making session with his girlfriend on hold to sit outside with Jacob to talk when Jacob shows up at his apartment unannounced.

After his release, Jacob is placed on medication and begins seeing a therapist to untangle his thoughts and life. He struggles to be open and honest and fights hard not to regress back into moments of insanity. At home and at his therapy sessions, his thoughts torment him as he flashes back to moments during his stay in the hospital and even struggles with thoughts to kill his best friend and the guilt that accompanies these thoughts. He does not act on his thoughts but it is apparent in the film that the thoughts seem to have a crippling effect on his grasp of reality. Jacob begins a romantic relationship with a young woman who is a single mother. His involvement with this mother and her son proves to therapeutic, giving him the first taste of normalcy he has had in a very long time. Because of the healing effect this relationship, Jacob is afraid to disclose to his new girlfriend about his past. He even contemplates going off of his medication in a premature attempt to function normally. He decides to go without his medication, which proves to be disastrous causing him to make choices that almost destroy his relationship with her and with his best friend. The aftermath forces him into a tailspin as he sinks deeper into the abyss of insanity.

The movie does have a redeeming ending as Jacob with the help of friends and family again starts on the road to recovery. He realizes that he cannot ignore the reality of his condition and only ater his family and friends exercise some "tough love" for his sake does he do everything in his power to use the options available to him to regain control over his life. The movie's candid approach will help you to see the devastating effects a mental illness can have on people and their loved ones. Mark Banning commented before the screening that a real friend who struggles with a bi-polar disorder inspired the movie and he wanted to use his film as a means to express the reality of the struggle with mental illness.

90 MIN.

DIRECTOR / WRITER Mark Banning PRODUCERS Mark Banning, Cliff Charles, Mad Matthewz CAST Michael Ealy, Andre Royo, Opal Aladdin, Angela Nirvana

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