A key goal of Voices was to capture elements of each narrative that were relatable to everyone who watched the film, including people with no previous exposure to mental illness. To accomplish this, we featured a diverse range of life situations and experiences, but also tried to highlight the elements of each story that overlapped in order to tie the journeys together into a cohesive film.
We were lucky enough to have met the Do family through a mutual acquaintance who knew about my personal experiences and thought that their story might resonate. Like Sharon’s son, Tuan, I am also a physician who has weathered some of the ups and downs of being a family member of someone with severe mental illness. My mother is also a first generation immigrant who struggled to acclimate to a foreign culture made more unfamiliar by her psychosis.
In telling Sharon’s story, we wanted to create an environment conducive to storytelling and attempted to do this by having Sharon’s son and brother (Tuan and Tam, respectively) talking to each other about their recollections and shared journeys. Unsurprisingly, when I was listening to these experiences it often felt like I was re-tracing my own familiar life arc, in terms of both emotions and content. But something that we didn’t expect was that this process was deeply meaningful not just for us, but also for the family, as it quickly became apparent that they were often discussing memories and perspectives, together and aloud in front of cameras, for the first time. The open discussion of these stories, both positive and heartbreaking, are what this film is all about.
- Gary Tsai, MD; Producer & Director