Newcastle film production company, Green Frog Production is teaming up with Lifeline to screen a mental health and suicide awareness documentary, which will premiere in the Hunter this month.
The Promise is an adaptation of Hunter-based former ABC radio broadcaster and mental health advocate and speaker, Craig Hamilton’s journey with bipolar disorder as outlined in his best-selling book Broken Open.
The documentary is intertwined with personal stories from prominent mental health experts, advocates and sporting icons.
Advance screenings will be held in the Hunter, including a red-carpet screening at Civic Theatre Newcastle on 20 September, and a screening at Events Cinema Kotara on 16 October.
The screenings are two of only 12 across Australia ahead of the film’s full release in 2024. At the Kotara screening, Craig and film-maker Jye Currie will host an audience question and answer session.
Proceeds from ticket sales at both screenings will support the work of local Lifeline centres.
Owner of award-winning Hunter-based film company Green Frog Productions, Jye Currie, directed the film. Jye said the film is a first of its kind and provides a compelling journey of hope.
“I want the film to create a pioneering, timeless and transformative experience for viewers that challenges stigma, sparks conversations and empowers individuals,” Jye said.
“This film isn’t just a piece of art; it is an instrument of change. We have captured authentic stories of people who have survived attempting suicide and those who lost loved ones to suicide.
“I understand the possible risk when making a film like this, but if I let risk stop me; Australia would still be waiting for a suicide prevention film.”
Craig is on a mission to normalise conversations around mental illness, to make mental health as easy to discuss as common colds.
His dream of covering the Sydney Olympics ended before it began when he had a psychotic episode on a Newcastle train station on his way to the Games.
Instead, he ended up in a mental health facility with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. As the documentary unfolds, viewers witness his struggles and triumphs in living with bipolar.
“I want to share my story to rewrite the narrative surrounding mental health and suicide prevention,” Craig said.
“The Promise aims to inspire empathy, understanding and action, and foster prioritising mental well-being and support for people on their path to recovery. I hope it will ignite transformative conversations, give hope, and create lasting change.”
“I’m passionate about mental illness because I’ve survived it. Speaking about it might save someone else’s life.”
Also featuring in the film is TV personality Jessica Rowe, mental health advocates Joe Williams and Bailey Seamer, world champion boxer Tim Tszyu, rugby league premiership-winning coach, Wayne Bennett and former Australian and NSW rugby league representative and Newcastle Knights’ captain, Paul Harragon.
Lifeline Community Development Manager, Pat Calabria said he is grateful for the film-makers’ support for Lifeline’s work in the community.
“As Australia’s leading suicide prevention organisation, Lifeline is here for the community 24/7 to create hope and support for people in crisis and reduce stigma around suicide,” Pat said.
“We welcome a film that is about normalising conversations about mental well-being as well as suicide and its prevention.”
Tickets for the advance screening are available at greenfrogproductions.com.
Lifeline was founded by the Reverend Alan Walker at Methodist Central Mission in Sydney in 1963. Since then, Lifeline services have been established around Australia and in many parts of the world.
Lifeline Newcastle & Hunter began in 1966 when Reverend John Chegwidden was awakened by a distressed telephone call from a man wanting to know if there was a Lifeline service operating in the region.
Over the years, Lifeline Newcastle & Hunter has expanded its operations from the traditional telephone crisis support service to include a range of services to relieve the stress and pain of the people of Newcastle & Hunter.