Mental illness is grappled with by families all across the globe, knowing nothing of racial or cultural boundaries. Pandi is an intensely intimate investigation into the death of a family member who struggled with depression.
A hugely personal film about her own family, director Maria Saroja Ponnambalam explores the mysteries behind her uncle Pandi’s life and the cause of his death. Pandi, an aspiring filmmaker, began experiencing symptoms of mental illness after migrating from India to Canada. Through a mix of home videos, letters, and animated sequences from Pandi’s last script, Ponnambalam uncovers the disjointed state of his mind towards the final phase of his life. After years of silence, her family finally opens up to talk about what made Pandi tick and why he ultimately took his life.
The film succeeds in showing how difficult a subject like mental illness is to talk about within a family unit, not only because of social stigmas, but also due to our general lack of understanding of what’s truly happening in the human brain. Ponnambalam gives a real glimpse into her family’s grappling with the guilt of wondering if they could have done more, if anything at all. It’s look at what people have to deal with when a love one is struggling, and it more importantly shows how there are truly no easy answers when it comes to depression. (Dave Voigt)
Tuesday, November 12th, TIFF Bell Lightbox, 6:30pm