Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Raise the Curtain: Moving Through Darkness on Rhode Island PBS

One in seven new mothers will experience postpartum depression within a year of giving birth. Raise the Curtain: Moving Through Darkness is a new documentary film that seeks to demystify this most common complication of childbirth. Rhode Island PBS airs Raise the Curtain: Moving Through Darkness on Thursday, October 2 at 8 p.m. During the broadcast, an off-camera referral help line will be staffed by trained volunteers and staff from Families First Rhode Island and the Moms for Moms program.

“Raise the Curtain sheds light in a moving and creative way on a problem that afflicts a staggering number of women who suffer in silence with this misunderstood disorder,” said David W. Piccerelli, president of WSBE Rhode Island PBS. “We’re pleased to air this film, and to open up our studio to make Families First’s help available to our viewers. This is an example of our commitment to air more local programming that is relevant to our audience, and to work with the community to spark conversations and bring attention to important issues such as mental health and wellness.”

Produced by Rhode Island filmmaker Soren Sorensen, Raise the Curtain: Moving Through Darkness features compelling stories of Rhode Island families who have experienced postpartum depression firsthand. The film juxtaposes these heartfelt dialogues with original choreography by obstetrician gynecologist Colleen Cavanaugh, MD, and performed by Part of the Oath. The expressive ballet movements eloquently portray a woman’s internal struggle with the disorder and triumphs over postpartum depression, with a goal to raise awareness and decrease the stigma related to this misunderstood mood disorder.

“The symptoms and stigma related to postpartum depression are, I think, largely unknown to most of us,” said filmmaker Soren Sorensen. “Like many devastating life experiences, postpartum depression is essentially ignored until families are ambushed by it. Postpartum depression, while very treatable, carries with it shame and isolation capable of rendering new mothers unwilling or unable to ask for help, and during a time they expected to be filled with rapturous joy.”

Families First Rhode Island works to end that shame and isolation by promoting the secure and nurturing parent-child relationships that are the foundation of every child’s overall well-being and future success. Families First conducts Moms For Moms, a program to help mothers who are pregnant or recently had a baby. Jamie Puleo, executive director of Families First Rhode Island, observed that some of these mothers could be at risk for or may be suffering from postpartum depression.

“Our Moms for Moms program offers peer mentoring, support, and friendship through weekly visits from well-trained volunteers or ‘Mentor Moms,’” she said. Ms. Puleo explained that volunteers are given extensive training and supervision in supporting women dealing with pregnancy and postpartum adjustment issues, including maternal depression.

 “As you will see, Raise the Curtain: Moving Through Darkness follows the story of four mothers in our program.  We hope that hearing their stories will encourage women to feel comfortable seeking help, whether they are depressed or feeling isolated or anxious with the changes that can occur when a new child is brought into the family,” Ms. Puleo said.

“The fact that Families First RI can offer mentorship and support to these mothers and so many more, at no cost, is astonishing,” said Mr. Sorensen. “This project is a unique collaboration that, as I near the end of the editing process, continues to challenge and educate me. I hope it does the same for audiences."

“We are grateful for Rhode Island PBS to not only share this film with their community but to also allow us to be a part of the evening by providing us an opportunity to be available to the viewers with a live call in component,” Ms. Puleo said. Our hope is that we will be able to reach more mothers and families with support and a sense of community when they may need it most.”

Trained volunteers, board members and staff from Families First Rhode Island will be in the Rhode Island PBS studios to staff an off-camera phone bank during the October 2 broadcast. New moms and loved ones who may have questions are invited to call during the film for referral and support. Women interested in becoming volunteers are also invited to call.