Stranded in Existence

When you think about it, one subject that black filmmakers have basically overlooked is the subject of mental illness.

Of course, there are exceptions, such as filmmaker Jono Oliver’s quite moving and powerful recent indie feature, Home (which will be screened at the Black Harvest Film Festival in Chicago this August). But aside from Oliver’s film, black films that deal with mental illness are few far and far between.

There’s no one reason why for this. Perhaps because the subject of mental illness is still a touchy one among black people, or possibly because it’s considered to be “dirty laundry” that shouldn’t be exposed in the public. Who knows?

But there’s a newly completed film that attempts to address the subject, from Southern California-based writer and director Adekola Popoola, titled Stranded in Existence.

The film, which was produced by Nabila Lester, is set on a college campus and deals a young student (played by Dominique Williams) who, among his peers, is perceived as a nerd or an “alienated weirdo.” But Nicholas is, in fact, actually struggling “with the mental illness of depression to the point that he has become extremely alienated and feels trapped in life.  Ending his life, seems to be the only way out, until a simple act of kindness from the young lady he loves, Sade, gives him the hope that he can win her heart; he must be successful if he wants to see a future and not die.  

Popoola says that, with this film, he “felt it was imperative that mental illness or depression gets addressed from a perspective that we aren't always privy to.  I've met people from all walks of life who suffer from depression. Still, they are productive in society and do incredible things.  I wanted to help de-stigmatize depression and certain forms of mental illness."

Here’s the trailer: