Documentary 'Bedlam' examines crisis of the mentally ill, homeless in LA and America

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Friday, February 1, 2019
Film 'Bedlam' examines mental health crisis
The documentary "Bedlam" which premiered at Sundance examines mental illness and homelessness in Los Angeles as the epicenter of a national crisis.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- At The Sundance Film Festival, a documentary called "Bedlam" got a standing ovation.

The film deals with mental illness - which often goes hand-in-hand with homelessness.

Those involved with this project believe we are in a great social crisis.

"Bedlam" was shot over a five-year period in Los Angeles.

"We filmed in the busiest hospital in the country, Los Angeles County Hospital," said writer director Kenneth Paul Rosenberg. "We filmed in the psych department, the emergency department. We filmed patients. We were permitted to film with HIPAA consents."

"Bedlam" takes moviegoers on a journey involving the mentally ill, the homeless and the reality of what's happening in this country, specifically here in Los Angeles.

"LA is the epicenter of our crisis and that's what led me to LA," said Rosenberg. "The largest collection of people who have serious mental illness is in Skid Row. The largest mental institution in this country is the LA County Jail. And it's a problem."

"We call the mentally ill in our film 'throwaway people' because that's what they end up being - people who were thrown away by our society and have families and have loved ones and really deserve lives that are taken from them," said Rosenberg. "One in four families have a family member with a serious mental illness. This is not a small problem."

Besides being a filmmaker, Rosenberg is also a psychiatrist. And he believes there is a solution to this crisis.

"What's going to settle it is the kind of relentless advocacy we've seen in HIV and breast cancer and all those diseases," said Rosenberg. "And we do not have that in the seriously mentally ill. And the major reason we don't have it is because people were ashamed. And people don't want to talk and say 'It's my story, it's my family'. And I hope, in some small way, the film will change that."