Will Life Imitate Art?
Official blog post for Tzedek.com's Blog page called: Hadassah Chavivah's Voice
Will Life Imitates Art? “A Reynah in Exile”
As an underrepresented artist with a mental health disability, I wrote, directed, edited, filmed, and played the main character in my award-winning short film " A Reynah in Exile". I wanted to share my story as a survivor and also the social injustice “Reynah “ the films protagonist experienced in her life and the negative impact the broken mental health system has on her journey to heal and grieve and be able to live a life of freedom.
In my short film, the protagonist " Reynah" does heal and make it out of exile ( Systemic Oppression). However, in real life, the question I asked in my title of my blog piece “Will Life Imitate Art" still remains an unanswered question. " Reynah" the main character of the film finds herself in acute distress and suffering as a survivor with PTSD and is lost in “Exile” because she does not have access to quality long term mental health care to heal and move on with her life just like so many other men and women in her position today find themselves in.
“Reynah “ is amongst the many men and women who are still living in the United States that unfortunately still live in a culture of prejudice, bias, and discrimination of people with mental health conditions and addiction.
“Reynah” is not an anomaly and this issue is affecting “ Reynah” and many others in real time as I write this blog post because of the gaps and inequality, and inequity of a systemically oppressed system for those who seek long-term quality care but don’t have the socio-economics or premium health care insurances to pay for it.
My name is Hadassah Chavivah Zeltzer a.k.a Kimme and I wanted to introduce you to my short film called “A Reynah in Exile,” a symbolic tale about freedom from oppression. This award-winning short film, made by me, has no spoken words and instead uses written text, music, and the viewer’s own imagination to convey its messages.
When I made this film back in 2017 I was not as evolved enough as a person as I am today to be able to tell my story as a survivor because I was too afraid of what people would say or do to me for telling the truth. That is why I made the film. I did not think I would survive what I was going through and I wanted to document that I once lived and that my life mattered and I was here. I used my creativity and the art of a storytelling with symbolism to keep certain parts of my story hidden because of the fear I had of some of the backlash and negative responses I saw other survivors go through who have shared their story and went public with their experiences with not so positive responses.
Now I am not afraid and feel it is imperative for my voice and the whole truth of my story be told. This way the people who have the social power and privilege can see what their indifference and intolerance amd bias of the mentally ill has done to me personally but also all of the other men and women who suffer on daily basis with trauma and mental illness and addiction.
The liberation and empowerment that I was seeking by making this film and telling my story was to improve my life by eliminating the internal oppression and all the “isms” I had incorporated in my way of thinking and responding to life for so many years by hiding in silence because I was not strong enough or well enough to speak. That is the real story of my film and reason for making it in the first place.
I have grown so much since the time I made the film a few years ago because my belief in a “higher power” of my understanding who gave me and still gives me the courage one second to go on despite all of the adversity and roadblocks I am still facing to keep on going and believe in a better day and future while doing my best to improve my life in the moment and elevate suffering.
The film was made in an allegoric storytelling style and is layered with relevant social justice and psychological themes while presenting them in an ethereal, fantasy-like manner. The music is a compelling backdrop to the film’s story and adds drama and excitement to the overall tale. The music is an original piece—called “A Thousand and One Nights”—composed by the multi-talented composer and musician SaReGaMa.
As an underrepresented artist with a mental health disability, I wrote, directed, edited, filmed, and played the main character, Reynah, in the film. (“Reynah” means “queen” in Persian.) In the film, Reynah and her family and friends face many challenges both from forces within and outside of their control. The film highlights some of the skills, tools, and unique coping mechanisms Reynah uses to survive this captivity until she is able to acquire freedom and independence.
Another intention I had for the film is to give people hope when facing challenges or obstacles in their lives, especially anyone who might struggle with any type of disability. I want to remind them that they are not alone. My film relays the message that they have what it takes to overcome their challenges when given the opportunities and resources they need.
If the men and women like “ Reynah” are unable to access those resources and the quality care support they need and deserve to escape “ Exile” then my question is not really answered. Then the film still haunts the viewer and reader with the reality of a very serious foreboding question will “ Reynah” make it out of exile and be free? Will Life imitate Art?
Just like my character, I am currently working toward self-sufficiency and economic freedom so I can take the next steps out of poverty and economic hardship. My long-term goal is to be able to continue working on “The Queen Esther One Dollar Fund,” which will support clergy abuse survivors from all faiths with financial resources to rebuild their lives and improve their quality of life.
I invite you to view the film for free below, or at the Brookline Interactive Group or Tzedeck.com
My name is Hadassah Chavivah Zeltzer and I am an underrepresented artist, songwriter, award-winning filmmaker. I am former Morah ( teacher) for Jewish Children in the Boston Jewish Community.