Mental Health • Suicide • Psychology • American History • Politics • Film Studies
2015. An Eden Wurmfeld Films/Shadowbox Films Production.
84 Minutes - DVD includes 60 Minute Short Version. Transcript Available.
What do you do when your documentary subject declares on camera that he plans to take his own life? And how can you stop recording if you believe that the film is keeping him alive? That was the dilemma that filmmaker Justin Schein faced six months into making a profile of life long peace activist Mayer Vishner. What unfolds is a deeply moving story about aging, activism and end of life choices.
For Mayer Vishner everything was political. He spent much of his life fighting for social justice. As an original member of the notorious Yippies — The Youth International Party— Mayer was at Abbie Hoffman’s side as they worked to shift the momentum of the fashionable hippie trend toward the political goals of ending the Vietnam War and fundamentally changing society. Their slogan was “never trust anyone over 30”. Now approaching 60 Mayer has decided that his time has passed and that his last political act will be to kill himself. Thus the director must decide whether to turn off his camera or use it to keep his friend alive.
Every 40 seconds a person dies by suicide somewhere in the world. An estimated 800,000 people take their own lives annually. In middle aged men, the age group of Mayer, the suicide rate has increased by 50% in the U.S. in the last decade. LEFT ON PURPOSE asks viewers to confront these growing issues of depression and aging while providing them a rare cinematic look at what it means to be a friend to someone in pain.
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LEFT ON PURPOSE
An aging anti-war activist decides to take his own life as his last political act