Cinema Series FAQ

  • Click on the blue tabs below to see information about the cinema series.
  • Movie dates, times, and trailers are below the FAQ box.
white-square
  • MAGPS sponsors a cinema series, open to clinicians, spouses, & anyone interested in the application of psychological principles to our lives.
  • The mission of the series is to promote connection for MAGPS members between conferences, get the word out about our conferences, provide stimulating learning experiences on issues including, but not limited to, group, diversity, and ethics.
  • Each cinema series event includes a light dinner, a movie, and a lively discussion with a moderator.
white-square
  • Light dinner: 5:45 PM - prepared by our own cinema series food committee (in context with the theme of the movie -- you will be surprised!)
  • Movie: 6:30 PM
Upcoming Presentations:  
  • 04/29/2017: Black Swan - Presenter: David Heilman, M.Psy.
white-square

white-squareA $10 donation to cover the cost of food and drink is requested.

white-square
white-square2.5 CEs (Continuing Education Credits) available for Professional Counselors, Clinical Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists, and Psychologists for $25.white-square
white-squarePlease email cinema@magps.org and let us know how many will be attending white-square
white-square
  • The home of Lorraine and Dan Wodiska
  • 6014 28th Street North, Arlington, VA 22207
white-square
white-squareDisclosure of Commercial Support and the Unlabeled use of a commercial product. No member of the planning committee and no member of the faculty for this event have a financial interest or other relationship with any commercial product(s) discussed in this educational presentation.white-square

Cinema Series Presentations

Cinema Series Interview – “Black Swan”

screenshot-2016-11-22-19-38-57Interview between Judy Tyson and David Heilman, who will be presenting the next MAGPS Cinema Series movie, “Black Swan,” Saturday, April, 29, 2017.

 

 

 

JUDY: David, I’m looking forward to getting to know you. And I’m wondering about your choice to present Black Swan at the Cinema Series on April 29.

DAVID: Absolutely, but before we start, I’d like to thank you and Lenore for giving me this opportunity to speak with the MAGPS community.

JUDY: You’re welcome. These interviews are a great way to share your personal self and your insights related to the film you have chosen to present. And our Cinema Series evening is a great way to enjoy our group, and have some fun and a learning experience as well.

Please tell us about yourself, your years before grad. school at GWU, and how you came to decide you want to be a mental health professional.


DAVID:
From as early as grade school I wanted to study voice and be an opera singer. I first studied at the Cleveland Institute of Music and then I majored in voice at The Juilliard School. When training as an opera singer, performance anxiety was a part of my everyday life. At Juilliard, I was taught anxiety was good; the fuel that makes for a brilliant performance. But I was not taught how to cope with relentless observation and intense competition. Needing help managing my stress, I began psychotherapy. I gained insight, increased my confidence and an ability to cope with substantial performance pressures. I also came to have high regard for my therapist and the psychotherapy process.

JUDY: You invested so many years in opera, why did you shift your focus to the mental health profession?

DAVID: I stopped singing professionally in 2010. Studying at the Music Academy of the West, I was fortunate to be mentored by mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne. And she encouraged me to study abroad in Germany. I soon realized that performing on the road would be an unavoidable reality. After much soul-searching, I concluded life on the road would be exciting; but it wouldn’t make me happy. I am proud of my life changing decision to leave music, study psychology, and become a psychotherapist. I’ve come to realize that practicing psychotherapy is an art. Becoming a mental health clinician has been one of the wisest decisions of my life.

JUDY: What a journey you’ve had! You enjoyed creating music; faced your fears as a performing musician; were mentored by a famous opera singer; challenged yourself by scrutinizing your choice of careers; and you have done what it takes to change careers. The insight and wisdom you gained along the way gives you a unique perspective to appreciate your client’s challenges.

You’ll soon graduate from GWU with a PsyD. How did you become aware of the value of group as a change agent?

DAVID: I first became a fan of group when attending GW’s “Group Relations Conference,” required for all Psy.D. first year psychology students. The conference is run similar to a Tavistock group. We learned about group process by completing a task in a small group while a group leader pointed out what is occurring unconsciously within the group. I was riveted by what transpired in my small group. I realized that group process reveals unconscious interpersonal patterns. I noticed I was competitive with my group members, and felt the shadow of Juilliard’s performance pressures influencing how I related to my group peers. That experience changed me. I learned that group process can stimulate twinship, honesty, and cohesion. I realized that skilled group leadership can effect positive change.

JUDY: Leaving the music profession to study psychology and train as a psychotherapist seems to be a dramatic change. Would you share your thoughts about that? What moved you to choose a mental health profession; And your interest in group, in particular?

DAVID. I believe my love of music and singing ensemble influenced me most in choosing group work. I still sing occasionally with the choir at the Washington National Cathedral. There are similarities between choral work and group work. Both incorporate improvisation. The boundaries in music are found in the time signature, the key signature, and the notes. Yet, the performance of the music is a live interaction among singers and their conductor.  Anything is possible.  No performance is identical. Similarly, for the group leader(s) and the group, each session has boundaries: time and confidentiality, cost of the sessions. And, again, anything is possible. Interactions among the therapist and group members are unique and unpredictable. So, for me, the group session is similar to a “musical” experience. Musicians sing ensemble to make music. Likewise, the group leader’s objective is to help the group develop cohesion (ensemble) as a means to support their insight, self-awareness, and personal growth.

JUDY. That is a beautiful metaphor. As a musician who enjoys playing chamber music, I very much relate to your comparing musical ensemble with the group process.

Let’s focus now on your decision to present the Black Swan at the Cinema Series. What motivated you to choose a film with such a dark theme?

DAVID. I know Black Swan can be a tough sell because of its disturbing nature.  However, as group leaders, we know it is important to be aware of undercurrents of competition and envy that may exist in our groups. When these feelings go unnoticed, not tended to, group members become anxious and shut down. Anxiety and paranoia may not lead to the plight experienced by the star ballerina in Black Swan. However, the stress the feelings impose can border on destructive. If competition percolates in the group, unchecked and unseen by the leader, there is no group safety.

I hope the film will stimulate a group discussion of the power of competition and how it can be a change agent. In Black Swan, we see an undercurrent of competition; a pecking order, and a striving for the company’s artistic director’s love or attention.  And a toxic group culture goes unnoticed until damage is done.

My wish is that those who view the film will heighten their awareness of their own feelings of jealousy, rage, envy, and competition the film addresses. I’d like to explore together how group can be an ideal setting to identify, process, and show the universality of these experiences.

JUDY: I agree, keeping aware and addressing signs of competition can be healing for group members and ultimately stimulate group cohesion.  I look forward to exploring our views regarding how we might address competitive strivings in our groups.

In “Black Swan” the camera focuses its lens on our star ballerina. The camera gives us a glimpse of her external and her internal life. Her life as she experiences it. Viewing her world through her eyes, we begin to wonder, what is real and what is projection? They blur for us. Please comment on this aspect of the film.

DAVID: So often in group we see members finding that what they believed to be “real” in others, is not “real” at all. For example, a member might believe another specific group member thinks they are rude and selfish, when this was never the case. It is the nature of group process for this “blurring” to occur and this is why a grounded group “leader” is critical to keep the process healthy and safe.

JUDY: Would you share with us the take away you hope to offer others from our viewing and discussing the film?

DAVID: As group leaders, we can help members see their “truths” differently. The film shows many “truths.” And without giving away the ending, I believe it will enable us to see how competition can get ugly and feel scary when it is unacknowledged and unexplored. I so look forward to exploring this provocative and important film with the MAGPS community.

JUDY: Me too. We certainly have an interesting, thought provoking, and stimulating evening to look forward to.

 

Cinema Series Archive

Cinema Series Interview – “Black Swan”

screenshot-2016-11-22-19-38-57Interview between Judy Tyson and David Heilman, who will be presenting the next MAGPS Cinema Series movie, “Black Swan,” Saturday, April, 29, 2017.

 

 

 

JUDY: David, I’m looking forward to getting to know you. And I’m wondering about your choice to present Black Swan at the Cinema Series on April 29.

DAVID: Absolutely, but before we start, I’d like to thank you and Lenore for giving me this opportunity to speak with the MAGPS community.

JUDY: You’re welcome. These interviews are a great way to share your personal self and your insights related to the film you have chosen to present. And our Cinema Series evening is a great way to enjoy our group, and have some fun and a learning experience as well.

Please tell us about yourself, your years before grad. school at GWU, and how you came to decide you want to be a mental health professional.


DAVID:
From as early as grade school I wanted to study voice and be an opera singer. I first studied at the Cleveland Institute of Music and then I majored in voice at The Juilliard School. When training as an opera singer, performance anxiety was a part of my everyday life. At Juilliard, I was taught anxiety was good; the fuel that makes for a brilliant performance. But I was not taught how to cope with relentless observation and intense competition. Needing help managing my stress, I began psychotherapy. I gained insight, increased my confidence and an ability to cope with substantial performance pressures. I also came to have high regard for my therapist and the psychotherapy process.

JUDY: You invested so many years in opera, why did you shift your focus to the mental health profession?

DAVID: I stopped singing professionally in 2010. Studying at the Music Academy of the West, I was fortunate to be mentored by mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne. And she encouraged me to study abroad in Germany. I soon realized that performing on the road would be an unavoidable reality. After much soul-searching, I concluded life on the road would be exciting; but it wouldn’t make me happy. I am proud of my life changing decision to leave music, study psychology, and become a psychotherapist. I’ve come to realize that practicing psychotherapy is an art. Becoming a mental health clinician has been one of the wisest decisions of my life.

JUDY: What a journey you’ve had! You enjoyed creating music; faced your fears as a performing musician; were mentored by a famous opera singer; challenged yourself by scrutinizing your choice of careers; and you have done what it takes to change careers. The insight and wisdom you gained along the way gives you a unique perspective to appreciate your client’s challenges.

You’ll soon graduate from GWU with a PsyD. How did you become aware of the value of group as a change agent?

DAVID: I first became a fan of group when attending GW’s “Group Relations Conference,” required for all Psy.D. first year psychology students. The conference is run similar to a Tavistock group. We learned about group process by completing a task in a small group while a group leader pointed out what is occurring unconsciously within the group. I was riveted by what transpired in my small group. I realized that group process reveals unconscious interpersonal patterns. I noticed I was competitive with my group members, and felt the shadow of Juilliard’s performance pressures influencing how I related to my group peers. That experience changed me. I learned that group process can stimulate twinship, honesty, and cohesion. I realized that skilled group leadership can effect positive change.

JUDY: Leaving the music profession to study psychology and train as a psychotherapist seems to be a dramatic change. Would you share your thoughts about that? What moved you to choose a mental health profession; And your interest in group, in particular?

DAVID. I believe my love of music and singing ensemble influenced me most in choosing group work. I still sing occasionally with the choir at the Washington National Cathedral. There are similarities between choral work and group work. Both incorporate improvisation. The boundaries in music are found in the time signature, the key signature, and the notes. Yet, the performance of the music is a live interaction among singers and their conductor.  Anything is possible.  No performance is identical. Similarly, for the group leader(s) and the group, each session has boundaries: time and confidentiality, cost of the sessions. And, again, anything is possible. Interactions among the therapist and group members are unique and unpredictable. So, for me, the group session is similar to a “musical” experience. Musicians sing ensemble to make music. Likewise, the group leader’s objective is to help the group develop cohesion (ensemble) as a means to support their insight, self-awareness, and personal growth.

JUDY. That is a beautiful metaphor. As a musician who enjoys playing chamber music, I very much relate to your comparing musical ensemble with the group process.

Let’s focus now on your decision to present the Black Swan at the Cinema Series. What motivated you to choose a film with such a dark theme?

DAVID. I know Black Swan can be a tough sell because of its disturbing nature.  However, as group leaders, we know it is important to be aware of undercurrents of competition and envy that may exist in our groups. When these feelings go unnoticed, not tended to, group members become anxious and shut down. Anxiety and paranoia may not lead to the plight experienced by the star ballerina in Black Swan. However, the stress the feelings impose can border on destructive. If competition percolates in the group, unchecked and unseen by the leader, there is no group safety.

I hope the film will stimulate a group discussion of the power of competition and how it can be a change agent. In Black Swan, we see an undercurrent of competition; a pecking order, and a striving for the company’s artistic director’s love or attention.  And a toxic group culture goes unnoticed until damage is done.

My wish is that those who view the film will heighten their awareness of their own feelings of jealousy, rage, envy, and competition the film addresses. I’d like to explore together how group can be an ideal setting to identify, process, and show the universality of these experiences.

JUDY: I agree, keeping aware and addressing signs of competition can be healing for group members and ultimately stimulate group cohesion.  I look forward to exploring our views regarding how we might address competitive strivings in our groups.

In “Black Swan” the camera focuses its lens on our star ballerina. The camera gives us a glimpse of her external and her internal life. Her life as she experiences it. Viewing her world through her eyes, we begin to wonder, what is real and what is projection? They blur for us. Please comment on this aspect of the film.

DAVID: So often in group we see members finding that what they believed to be “real” in others, is not “real” at all. For example, a member might believe another specific group member thinks they are rude and selfish, when this was never the case. It is the nature of group process for this “blurring” to occur and this is why a grounded group “leader” is critical to keep the process healthy and safe.

JUDY: Would you share with us the take away you hope to offer others from our viewing and discussing the film?

DAVID: As group leaders, we can help members see their “truths” differently. The film shows many “truths.” And without giving away the ending, I believe it will enable us to see how competition can get ugly and feel scary when it is unacknowledged and unexplored. I so look forward to exploring this provocative and important film with the MAGPS community.

JUDY: Me too. We certainly have an interesting, thought provoking, and stimulating evening to look forward to.

Cinema Series Preview: Black Swan

 

Black Swan: Performance, Competition, and Annihilation in Group 

by David Heilman, MM, MPsy

Our next Cinema Series presentation will feature the movie, Black Swan. The film follows New York City Ballet dancer Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) as she goes after her big shot of being cast as the lead in Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. Nina impresses the artistic director, Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassell), but Swan Lake needs a ballerina who can play both the White Swan–with virtue and purity–and the Black Swan–with cunning and calculating seduction. While Nina is told by Thomas that she fits the White Swan role perfectly, she has stiff competition in the company’s new dancer, Lily (Mila Kunis), who appears to exemplify the Black Swan. Although Nina has befriended by Lily, her fears of competition get the better of her, and she becomes her own worst enemy.

Join us on April 29, 2017, as host Lenore Pomerance, LICSW, CGP, discussant Judy Tyson, PhD, MS, CGP, and presenter and Juilliard-trained singer David Heilman, MM, MPsy, explore the intensity of competition, and how competitive feelings can be stirred up (and faced) in Group. Click here for more information.

Cinema Series Postlude – “Moonrise Kingdom”

Originally posted to Trish Cleary’s blog for Valentine’s Day, we wanted to make sure our community was able to access Trish’s wonderful follow-up entry to her Cinema Series presentation on the film “Moonrise Kingdom.” Please enjoy:

Hungry for Love – Trish Cleary, MS, LCPC-MFT-ADC, CGP

When bonds of love become broken or altered, we strive to restore them.

Sam and Suzy were drawn to each other at first sight. In a matter of seconds, their hearts connected; just as circumstances beyond their control separated them. They shared their feelings through secret letters and created a sanctuary from the barren emotional landscapes of their separate worlds. Sam and Suzy’s desire for closeness contrasts with the melancholic deprivation of the adults responsible for them. They plan to escape the isolation of this ordinary world and create a special place of their own.

Wes Andersen’s “Moonrise Kingdom” (2012) is about a small world where big events occur. Suzy and Sam, the central characters in this magical movie, powerfully influence others in a multitude of ways. I recently presented this film to my group psychotherapy colleagues at our local Cinema Series to illustrate aspects of group theory as well as the healing power of group. “Moonrise Kingdom” reflects the safe holding space of our therapy groups, small worlds where life-changing experiences can happen.

Sam and Suzy are kindred spirits, caught in the proscribed confines of the status quo. Sam, an orphan stuck in foster care, relies on his scouting skills, as reflected by the merit badges covering his shirt. Suzy, trapped in a discordant family, clings to her music, the heroines in her books, and her kitten. They hunger for a known but almost-forgotten feeling: acceptance. Their courage launches a “hero’s journey” of tests, enemies, and allies. Sam and Suzy’s adventure affirms the power of their love and ultimately transforms their world.

We encounter Sam and Suzy in an open field ready to embark on their secret life together. Sam wears his scout uniform with pride. Tucked among his badges is his mother’s brooch, a poignant sign of her love and his loss. His coonskin hat and corncob pipe complete his eccentric ensemble. His expertly packed gear rests comfortably on his back conveying the competence of his budding maturity. Suzy’s gaze at Sam from under her stylized blue eye-shadowed lids is steady and suggests a worldly sophistication as she accepts his bouquet of wild-flowers. Binoculars hang from her neck. A record player, records, a suitcase filled with books and a basket carrying her kitten are precariously balanced upon her small frame. They embark on a two-day hike and, after a series of mishaps, arrive at their new home, a beautiful remote cove. Sam efficiently and expertly sets up camp as music from Suzy’s portable record player embraces them. They swim, dance, play and then sleep under the stars of Moonrise Kingdom.

A dangerous storm is brewing. A search party has been dispatched. Heedless of the impending danger, Suzy and Sam continue to evade the adults’ attempts to restrain their intentions. They persevere and proclaim their love. It isn’t until Sam and Suzy approach life-threatening danger that the adults recognize their love as real. Their truth awakens the adults’ desire for real connections. As their melancholic fog dissipates, tender bonds are forged. Sam and Suzy welcome the thoughtful boundaries designed to nurture them without eclipsing their love.

Clinical Considerations

The adults in Sam and Suzy’s lives have failed them. Our heroes move away from this disappointment, trusting in their own idealism. The brewing storm represents unresolved ruptures the adults must face. Withstanding this crisis supports real connections.

James Kavanaugh’s poem mirrors Sam and Suzy’s acceptance of each other in “Moonrise Kingdom.”

To love is not to possess,
To own or imprison,
Nor to lose one’s self in another.

Love is to join and separate,
To walk alone and together,
To find a laughing freedom
That lonely isolation does not permit.

It is finally to be able
To be who we really are
No longer clinging in childish dependency
Nor docilely living separate lives in silence,
It is to be perfectly one’s self
And perfectly joined in permanent commitment
To another–and to one’s inner self.

Love only endures when it moves like waves,
Receding and returning gently or passionately,
Or moving lovingly like the tide
In the moon’s own predictable harmony,
Because finally, despite a child’s scars
Or an adult’s deepest wounds,
They are openly free to be
Who they really are–and always secretly were,
In the very core of their being
Where true and lasting love can alone abide.

Happy Valentine’s Day

Full URL:  https://www.trishcleary.com/spokentruthssharedjourney/2017/2/14/hungry-for-love

Short URL:  http://bit.ly/2knIQQ0

Date:  February 14, 2017

Twitter:  A Valentine treat has been posted on my blog

Cinema Series Interview – “Moonrise Kingdom”

screenshot-2016-11-22-19-38-57Interview between Judy Tyson and Trish Cleary, who will be presenting the next MAGPS Cinema Series movie, “Moonrise Kingdom,” Saturday, February 11, 2017.

 

 

J: Would you share a bit about your relationship with movies throughout your life? 

TC: Movies have been and continue to be an integral part of my life. In childhood, Saturday afternoon double-features with my three closest siblings fueled our playtime creativity. From childhood to adulthood movies fed my curiosity about the emotional world of people: their feelings, relationships, hopes and fears, as well as their joys and sorrows. Films helped me become aware of my connections with others and awakened my interest in what might be going on in the relationships of those around me. Movies still provide me entertainment, relaxation, and food for thought.
 
J: I can see that “Moonrise Kingdom” might well evoke personal memories from childhood for many of us. The dramatic play of the children reminded me of, as a child, playing “Tarzan” in the woods with two best friends. That is one of my sweetest childhood memories. How about you?

TC: “Moonrise Kingdom” brings to mind me at twelve with a friend who lived in the country along the Bay. One day while exploring in the woods, we came upon a huge fallen tree with elaborately exposed roots. We named it the Squiggly Tree, a fortress we could approach and/or escape via the woods above or the beach below. Totally concealed by the brush, we nestled into its branch-like roots with our “books, music, and no adults” and dangled aimlessly suspended above the water’s edge.

JT: Do you recall the reason you liked this movie originally? And why you picked it for the MAGPS Cinema Series?

TC: When I saw this film a couple of years ago, I recognized its depiction of the hero’s journey for a number of the characters. It suggests reparative paths for others. It reminded me of processes that occur in the safe holding space of group. 

JT:  “Moonrise Kingdom’s” narrative, its concise and meaningful script, superb acting, and colorful presentation contribute to its entertainment factor. It seems to me that “Moonrise Kingdom” has a potential for being transformative for the viewer. Do you agree?

TC: In “Moonrise Kingdom,” Wes Anderson uses subtle metaphors and evocative cues to connect us to his characters. The magical creativity of the children’s play as well as the palpable melancholy of the adults responsible for the children’s welfare are reminiscent of issues our clients bring with them to group. The metaphors and cues Anderson projects in “Moonrise Kingdom” convey the emotional depth of his characters. We have seen them in our clients and they may remind us of our own hopes, dreams, fantasies, disappointments and longings.
 
Our Cinema Series gives us an opportunity to experience a transformative process as a group when watching films together and discussing the significance of our perceptions. We might find that recognizing aspects of ourselves in Wes Anderson’s characters may also be personally transformative.

   

JT: There are a number of musicians who attend the Cinema Series evenings. I noticed that the film begins with children listening to the recording of Britten’s, “A Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra,” which includes a fugue. First, each orchestral instrument plays a beautiful solo. Then, we hear the tune played by families of instruments. Then, (the “fugue” part) all the instruments are played at the same time. And, rather than “noise,” the music is beautiful. Would like you to comment on Anderson’s choice of music in this film.
TC: Wes Anderson’s orchestral score introduces, perhaps out of one’s awareness, subgrouping patterns in the orchestra and within the film, as the music enriches the drama. I look forward to hearing the audience’s observations about Anderson’s use of music to enhance the film.

JT: Dargis, of the New York Times, made the point, “Wes Anderson makes films about…. small worlds in which big things happen: love, heartbreak, calamities, death.” Can you comment on this in regard to what “Moonrise Kingdom” offers group therapists as food for thought?

TC: As group therapists, we are familiar with “small worlds in which big things happen” both in real time and symbolically. In the safe holding place of our groups, repair can occur as we encourage group members to face their life-challenges and embrace their hero journeys as they come to terms with the impact of social forces within the group. Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom” portrays group themes and aspects of “the hero’s journey” for many of the characters in his movie.
 
I found “Moonrise Kingdom” to be profoundly moving. I hope it provides my MAGPS colleagues a rich film experience and then a stimulating discussion

Cinema Series Interview – “Avalanche”

20161023-_mg_0239-edit-2-1screenshot-2016-11-22-19-38-57Interview between Judy Tyson and Mahrokh Shayanpour, who will be presenting the next MAGPS Cinema Series movie, “Avalanche,” Saturday, December 3, 2016.

J-Tell me about you and your interest in movies.

M. I have been interested in movies since I was very young. I pursued my interest by taking courses in acting school. And, presently, I express my interest by writing screen plays and librettos for opera.

J-What kind of movies do you like? What themes interest you?

M. I like movies that focus on relationships and spirituality. As George Valliant proposed, awe, love (attachment), trust (faith), compassion, gratitude, forgiveness, joy and hope constitute what we mean by spirituality. When I watch a movie I am curious to see how minor and major incidents in peoples’ lives impact them. I’m curious about how they cope with the stress from these incidents. How they manage their sanity when they must face something difficult; how the out-of-balance state of their lives influences their spiritual perspective. I notice how their lives are reflected in what my beloved poet Rumi says about his life: “The result of my life is no more than three words: I was raw, I became cooked, and I was burnt.”

J- Why did you choose this movie?

M. The first reason I chose this movie was because of the actress. Fateme Motamed-Arya. Without any doubt she is one of the most talented actresses in Iran. I try not to miss any of her movies. The first time I saw Avalanche, was in D.C. last year at the Smithsonian’s Iranian film festival; when it had not yet been shown in Iran.

The movie’s story is written so that no matter what your background or how old you are, you can view it through your own lens and interpret it with different perspectives. And, in the end, all interpretations can make sense. The more I watched the movie I found points that are a new angel to interpret.

J-What about this movie would interest group therapists?

M. In Avalanche we see each character as part of at least one subgroup. The film vividly demonstrates the challenge of maintaining self-care while being responsive to the expectations and needs of others. We watch Homa respond to the needs of the “other” while overriding to her own needs. Homa struggles to identify her needs in spite of the “pull” and distraction of the needs of the “others”. Group therapists are reminded that each group member is impacted one way or another by the subgroups they bring with them in their psyches. Watching Avalanche the group therapist is reminded of the group leader’s role: help group members solve the question, “how do I respond to my needs for actualization without denying and blocking the needs of maintaining a connection with others.

J-What does this movie tell us about Iran? Culture? Role of women? Men? Medical culture?

M. This movie does not talk much about the Iranian culture in particular. To me, the challenges that story presents are global issues; anyone anywhere can experience it. People have “bumps on their life road”, no matter what culture they have or what religion they pursue.

J- And what do we learn about the roles of the Iranian men and women we see in this film?

M. In the United States many woman and men, rather than being constrained to one particular purpose or role, have taken on many roles like Homa. These roles are critical for their livelihood and important for their self-esteem and sense of fulfillment. Viewing the film through the lens of Homa, her husband and other characters in the film, we see an Iranian woman challenged by the responsibilities and expectations from her various roles. We see the husband acting on his wish for fulfillment in his role as writer. So we have a picture that appears similar to the multi-faceted roles of adults in the States.

J- A movie critic described Homa as sinking into Depression. Is that your view? From a clinical view, how would you describe her?

M. The answer that makes sense to the viewer will depend on the lens you use. I see Homa through a different lens. I notice she is sleep deprived while trying to be responsive to many others’ needs. From the lens of psychopathology she could be seen as depressed and co-dependent. However, I view her from the lens of sleep deprivation. I see Homa struggle to manage her role as nurse, mother, and wife while she is physically exhausted. Perhaps what looks like depression could be the effects of sleep deprivation. Her change in mental status, cognition, poor decision making, impulsivity in reacting to others she cares for, and inability to strategize effectively can be explained be explained as the effects of sleep deprivation.

J- What else would you like to tell me before we conclude our conversation about this film?

M. If people are interested in seeing another movie about interpersonal relationships, I suggest watching “Certified Copy” by Abbas Kiarostami who, sadly, passed away a few months ago. Juliet Binoche won best actress award at Cannes for her part in the film.

J- Thank you, Mahrokh. I have enjoyed talking with you and learning about your views on Avalanche. There are so many aspects to it that make it a gem of a film. Anticipating our conversation I watched the film once. For me, the camera work and sound effects contributed to Avalanche being a work of art. I wonder what other lenses I’ll notice watching it for the second time. I’m looking forward to seeing you at the Cinema Series December 3.