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Film review: "Hollywood Beauty Salon" 

Screening Tuesday, June 14, as part of the Reel Mind Theatre and Film Series, "Hollywood Beauty Salon" is a documentary focusing on the clients of a beauty parlor located in the Germantown Recovery Community in Philadelphia. The salons is part of a program to help people cope and recover from mental health challenges and addiction, and is operated by Rachel Carr, herself a survivor of abuse who's fought to overcome depression and anxiety.

The film follows the planning for the Recovery Hair and Fashion Show, an annual event organized by the salon's clients and volunteers. Interspersed with these preparations are interviews with the various residents who speak about their lives as well as their daily struggles with mental illnesses, which range from schizophrenia to bipolar disorder and depression. Determined to combat the stigma associated with mental illness, the residents prove that these issues are no indication that a person can't live a productive, meaningful life. As one declares, "I am not my diagnosis. I am not my symptoms."

Interestingly, the film itself plays a small role in the road to recovery. Several of the interviews incorporate animation and reenactments that are the result of a collaborative filmmaking workshop hosted by director Glenn Holsten, and which took place over the course of four years. The varying methods give each subject the means to tell their story in a way that remains personal to them. We hear some devastating tales, but each person remains positive, finding the strength to conquer even their darkest days, and looking forward to a bright and hopeful future.

Tuesday's screening will be followed by a Q&A with director Glenn Holsten and Rachel "Hollywood" Carr, as well as Dr. Ryan Bell of the Rochester Psychiatric Center.


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