The Other Side of Joy, a compelling psychological drama, captures the essence of reality through its combination of fictional nuance and true to life stories. This suspenseful film pulls you in and seizes your thoughts long after viewing it.
A 2003 winner at the Telluride IndieFest, The Other Side of Joy premiered at the Munich Film Festival in Germany, where it was featured as one of the American Independents. Winner of the Transcending Boundaries Award at Bare Bones Independent Film Festival, The Other Side of Joy is a triumph of low budget independent filmmaking.
"It's unlike any film I've ever seen. It can best be described as a religious horror film, sort of a cross between Maya Deren and Sam Fuller's Shock Corridor, says Henry Bean, writer, and director of The Believer.
The Other Side of Joy looks deep into the lives and minds of Sarah and Joy. Sarah is obsessed with forcing Joy to acknowledge their past relationship, whereas Joy is determined to leave that past, one of mental illness and hospitalization, far behind her. Their spirits, once united, unravel in a sea of denial.
The Other Side of Joy is dedicated to an amazing actress Susan Benenson, who passed away shortly after the completion of this movie. Her real life illness conveys an honesty and eerie frailty to her role that is truly haunting. The ten years that elapsed between filming the past and present tenses captured the devastating effects of time on Sarah's face and figure, and contributed in a subtle and powerful way to The Other Side of Joy.
While The Other Side of Joy is fictional, its characters are drawn from real life, and the hospital scenes were faithfully re-enacted from scenes depicted in a psychologist's detailed diary. The film captures both the monotony and episodic fits of excitement that characterizes many psychiatric wards, and also expresses the pain and terrible beauty of mental illness.
"I am swimming in The Other Side of Joy. It's so full of wondrous images of life's depths that its haunting me. It has the integrity of mental illness -- both raw and defined." Ellen Baxter, homeless advocate and Director of Broadway Housing in New York City.
Lisa Rinzler, Director of Photography, created much of the beautiful imagery in the film. She was the recipient of the Triple Crown Award at Sundance for Three Seasons, was featured in the documentary, Visions of Light, and was the cinematographer for Pollack. The music was composed and performed by violinist Scarlet Rivera and the late composer, Tommy Eyre. Scarlet is best known for her work on Bob Dylan's Hard Rain and Desire albums, and Tommy came of age doing the arrangement and keyboards for Joe Cocker's Little Help From My Friends. Odetta, the renowned folk singer, is featured in a moving performance as one of the hospital patients.
Randi Hoffmann, writer, director and editor for The Other Side of Joy, is fascinated by the difficult and incomprehensible. Her varied career has taken her from working for National Geographic as a film researcher, to Iran directing documentaries during its revolution and aftermath, to directing an award-winning feature in Germany for ZDF television. She directed the award-winning short, Debby's Nervous Breakdown, and has taught film and video at Hunter College and School of Visual Arts in New York and Webster University in Vienna, Austria.