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Its manic highs have been described as more addictive than drugs. Its depressive lows as hellish bottom-less pits; a walking death. Bipolar Disorder is one of the most commonly diagnosed and devastating mental illnesses, affecting approximately 1 in 20 adults.

Many of the mentally ill live on the streets. Millions of others live at home with their families. Melanie, Theresa, Ted and Denise are just four of the millions of family members who cope with the devastating effects this disorder has on their loved ones and families on a daily basis. Each family represents a stop on the life-long journey of living and managing a family with bipolar disorder.

Ted’s daughter Kristy is only 21, and has just received the diagnosis of bipolar disorder after a devastating manic episode that saw her hospitalized for weeks in a foreign country while her father waited at home, helpless. However, both Ted and Kristy struggle to accept the diagnosis as real, until another episode finally convinces them both to seek the help they need as a family to help Kristy manage her disorder.

Theresa’s daughter Valerie was diagnosed a few years ago and has accepted her diagnosis. Now it’s finally time for Theresa to learn how to look after herself, a job complicated by a very real fear that her daughter will follow in the footsteps of her own mother who took her life during a bipolar depression.

From the outside Melanie probably looks like she has it all. Inside her home she desperately tries to balance a full-time job, raise her two young sons, and take care of Keith, her unpredictable husband who is struggling to manage the most severe type of bipolar disorder. After years of sacrifice in the face of Keith’s illness and hospitalizations that last for months, Melanie finally realizes that the one person she’s forgotten to take care of, is herself.

Denise and Michael have a picture-postcard life as they spend their retirement on the gorgeous Sunshine Coast of British Columbia. But the calm life they lead now has been paid for by 20 years of Michael’s long psychotic episodes and depressions. While as a couple Denise and Michael have come to grips with the disorder, now it’s time for Michael to face his daughter Samantha and hear for the first time how his illness affected her.

"Family Matters: Surviving The Bipolar Journey", shows us that while there are stark realities to dealing with mental illness, inside every family struggling to cope is an opportunity to make the home a place of healing and acceptance.

Family Matters: Surviving the Bipolar Journey was directed by Mary Frymire, written by Carolyn Schmidt, produced by Marsha Newbery; director of photography, Todd Craddock; editor Tim Wanlin, and features an original score by Matthew Rogers.

Another great film by
Mars Entertainment

Not Just A Bad Day

Not Just A Bad Day

To the outsider, Mike, Erin, Mary-Jane and Martha appear to have little in common. But they are all living under the shadow of one of the most commonly misunderstood and misdiagnosed mental illnesses - Bipolar Disorder.

This party boy, young mom, executive and teacher also share a common goal: to live a normal life. This documentary details the personal struggles as they each cope with the emotional highs and lows of the disorder. Through hard work and the hands on support of their psychiatrist, they all begin to learn how to manage the extreme mood swings and lead productive, balanced lives.


Mary M. Frymire - Director

Award winning director, Mary M. Frymire is a director with over 22 years in the field. Frymire has developed, directed and produced documentary and dramatic projects in over 50 countries working fluently in four different languages. Specializing in issue oriented, documentary-based subjects, she draws on her cross-cultural experience when developing and directing character-driven, visually evocative, films that tell compelling stories.

Mary’s work has been broadcast on the National Geographic Channel, Outdoor Life Network, Can West, CTV HD Travel, Hallmark Channel USA, Life Network, W Network, Oxygen Network USA, Discovery Canada, Discovery USA, Discovery International, Channel 5UK, BBC, Nickelodeon, Wham, Unapix, Vision TV, Knowledge Network, CBC, CTV, VTV, Global TV, World‐Wide Television News UK.

She also has a personal connection to this story. Her mother suffers from bipolar disorder.

Marsha Newbery - Producer

Marsha Newbery is an award winning producer and director, and is the President of Mars Entertainment, a successful Vancouver independent media company. She worked extensively in documentary production and recently produced her first dramatic film Playing For Keeps (CTV) to critical acclaim.

Her first documentary, The Rock and Roll Kid (CBC) garnered a Leo award for Best Documentary in 2005. In 2008 her one-hour documentary, Tailor Made, (CBC) won best film at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. In 2007 she produced the one-hour documentary, Not Just a Bad Day, the precursor to Family Matters, which won a Silver Chris Award at the Columbus International Documentary Festival.

Marsha is currently pursuing her Masters degree in Communications at Simon Fraser University and is on the Steering Committee for SexMoneyMedia – an international conference promoting gender equity in screen based media.

Todd Craddock - Cinematographer

Award Winning Cinematographer, Todd Craddock is British Columbia's most sought after cinematographer. He has brought such visually stunning programs as Ice Pilots, Vanity Insanity, Surfing the Amazon, The Dolphin Dealer, Ancient Clues and Girl Racers to the screen. Craddock also both produced and shot the critically acclaimed film, Cracking Up - a documentary that profiles a program dedicated to teaching stand-up comedy to the mentally ill.

More information and a full list of credits can be found at

Carolyn Schmidt - Writer

Award winning writer, Carolyn Schmidt was a recent recipient of the silver CHRIS Award for Global Television's, Branded: Saving Our Town. Schmidt was also recently nominated for a Leo in consideration of her work as writer and producer on National Geographic Channel's (Int'l, USA, and Canada) ratings winning series, Blow Down.

In 2006 and 2005 she created the controversial CBC special: Medicare Schmedicare and the equally divisive CTV program: The Business of Sex. Rounding out a compliment of social issues driven documentaries, Schmidt also co-directed, Woodward's: The Competition, for CBC television in 2004.

Schmidt has an extensive background in documentary television including work on several early Discovery Channel and History Television series that continue to air in repeats over 10 years later.

Tim Wanlin - Editor

Award winning editor, Tim Wanlin is one of Vancouver's most sought after documentary editors. Responsible for editing challenging docu-soaps such as Stuntdawgs and No Boundaries, Wanlin was also charged with bringing together the award winning one‐off documentary, The Rock and Roll Kid. His credits include groundbreaking films like Alexandra’s Echo, Embracing Bob’s Killer, Not Just A Bad Day, and Peace Warrior.

Matthew Rogers - Composer

Award winning composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist Matthew Rogers’ musical output is as diverse as his interests.

He has composed for documentaries, animations, feature films, short films, television series, and video games. He was awarded a Leo for The Anachronism and was nominated for a Leo for Machine With Wishbone. His recently completed score for Fish in Barrel will be premiering at The Toronto International Film Festival this year.

Awarded the Vancouver New Music Young Composers award in 2003, Matthew has been commissioned by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the Vancouver Chinese Music Ensemble, the Laudate Singers, and Vancouver New Music. He is a graduate of the University of British Columbia Music Composition program as well as the Capilano College Jazz Studies Program.

From 2004 to 2006, he apprenticed with Vancouver film composer Ari Wise working on such shows as Falcon Beach, X-Quest and How Do They Do It?.

Dr. Paul Termansen - Executive Producer

Psychiatrist and bipolar disorder advocate, Dr. Paul Termansen, had dedicated the past few years to getting the word out when it comes to mental illness. With decades of experience in working with bipolar patients, Dr. Termansen is the productions go-to expert on bipolar disorder and the mental health system. Dr. Termansen was in the film Not Just a Bad Day, and worked with the production to provide access to CPS and their patients.

Lions Gate Hospital Foundation

For more than 25 years, Lions Gate Hospital Foundation has been a vital part of the North Shore community. Since 2004, the Foundation, through the support of its donors, has invested more than $50 million in new medical equipment, facility improvements, staff education and research.

Lions Gate Hospital Foundation is committed to raising funds to support the highest quality health care on the North Shore for many different areas of healthcare including mental health and addictions programs. Lions Gate Hospital Foundation is pleased to provide funding for ‘Family Matters’ through a grant from the Sutherland Family Foundation.

For information on Lions Gate Hospital Foundation, please visit


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Media Contact:
Marsha Newbery, Mars Entertainment Inc.
Phone: 604.418.1173


70% of bipolar patients will be misdiagnosed more than three times.

According to Dr Wes Burgess in his Bipolar Handbook: "A recent study showed that almost 70% of bipolar patients had been misdiagnosed more than 3 times before receiving their correct diagnosis".



November 17th: Vancouver Premiere, Frames of Mind Film Festival. Vancouver, Pacific Cinemateque, 1131 Howe Street

Upcoming: Canadian Broadcast Premiere, Knowledge. Spring 2011


The cost of keeping someone with a serious mental illness in the hospital: $170,820 per year.

Source: Fact Sheet: Mental health in numbers. Available at:


The more people know about bipolar disorder and its effect on families the more they can help. If you think your community might benefit from knowing more about the impact bipolar disorder has, we invite you to host a screening. By encouraging community screenings we hope to change the shocking statistics associated with the disease: 90% divorce rate, 30% suicide rate, and a 70% misdiagnosis rate

Become a part of the solution and host a screening with our easy to follow guidelines:

Step 1: Purchase a DVD of Family Matters by filling out the online form or contact us at To purchase a DVD of Not Just a Bad Day for your local screening, please visit NFB Online Store.

Step 2: Download the Event Planner for suggestions on hosting a successful screening.

Step 3: Let us help you advertise your screening by submitting it for listing on Go here to list your screening.

Step 4: Download Discussion Questions for post-screening conversations.

Step 5: Tell us what happened! You can visit and post photos and comments about your screening. Your experience will help and encourage others who are thinking about hosting their own screenings.

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(Please note: the community screening kit which includes posters and screening guides is made available upon request free-of-charge to Institutional/Non-profit customers only.)


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