Long Island- Based Film Focuses On Mental Health

Speak To Me, a movie filmed on Long Island and created by and starring Long Islanders, is premiering at Movieland Cinemas in Coram on Feb. 16.
The film follows two young men who deal with life’s ups, downs and expectations, all while maintaining emotional boundaries that plague Black and African American Men: “Man up!,” “Be tough,” or “Life ain’t fair.” The film asks, what are their breaking points, and it aims to start a conversation about mental health and vulnerable communication.
“We’re raised to be strong, they tell us don’t let anyone see you cry,” said Kurt Damas, the writer and co-director of the film. “That’s how we’re brought up. When in reality I believe you should cry when you feel like you have to cry. And you should tell someone that you don’t feel right… The stigma is you’re weak if you have problems, you’re weak if you’re depressed, or you’re crazy… But you’re actually breaking this person when you’re not addressing how they feel, their emotions. And we’re taught to swallow those emotions, hold them in and go about your day.”
Speak To Me is a much needed conversation starter. According to research posted on the film’s website, 16 percent (4.8 million) of Black and African American people reported having a mental illness, and 22.4 percent of those (1.1 million people) reported a serious mental illness over the past year. And rates of serious mental illness in the Black and African American community is rising.
“It’s a short film that we wrote because we lost a friend in 2022,” Damas said. “During that time it was super tough, emotionally, and I was meditating one day. I was probably at my lowest point, emotionally. And I came to the realization that I was blessed to have these friends and family members; my wife, my brother and my close friends that I can cry with and mourn with. And I wouldn’t know how to go through that pain without the help of them. And I know, in most cases, you don’t have a lot of people like that.”
Many involved with the film were personally impacted by the loss of this friend, including Cory Saint-Laurent, who stars in the film. Damas had always told Saint-Laurent that he would write something for him.
“I was a rapper who toured the world for a lot of years straight, no agent, no record label, no anything,” Damas said. “My friend was actually my right hand man on those tours, but I was always a creative. That was my thing. And I always wrote scripts.”
For years, Damas has wanted to create a movie, and when he got the idea for it, he wrote Speak To Me in a day. And, Damas said, he received a blessing from the sister of his passed friend.
The producer and co-director, Trevor Jackson, has also always wanted to work on a movie. And Damas always told Jackson that he was going to hold him to that.
“That’s what I’m known for, holding my friends to whatever they tell me,” Damas said. “So, they’re super selective about telling me their dreams, because I hold them to it.” The film was funded by Damas and Jackson, and they received support in creating a high-end production from friends who could provide various skill sets and film locations.
“It was all about resourcefulness and our network of people who wanted to see us do well,” Damas said. “They also believed in the message behind our script.”
Speak To Me stars Saint-Laurent, Matthew Boyd, Nersheen Lotus and LaVeda Davis. For more information about the film, visit www.speaktomethefilm.com.

Leave a Reply




Meryl Ain’s Highly Anticipated Sequel Set To Release: April 25

Coming this spring, Long Island local Meryl Ain is back with Shadows We Carry (SparkPress, April 25), the much-anticipated sequel to her hit debut...

Jericho Man Pleads Guilty For Deadly Collision With Motorcycle

Nassau County District Attorney Anne T. Donnelly announced that a Jericho man pleaded guilty yesterday to Aggravated Vehicular Homicide and other charges for a...

Collection Drive Underway Supports VA Hospital

The Town of Oyster Bay will host a “Spring into Action” Collection Drive in support of the Northport VA. During the month of April,...

In Honor of National Vietnam War Veterans Day – March 29, 2023

Dear Vietnam Veteran, I know that I should have written much sooner. I cannot say why I did not. Possibly out of fear of admitting...

Sands Youth Empowerment Initiative Hosts Carli Lloyd and David Beckham

On March 11, Las Vegas Sands hosted inspiring and legendary soccer stars Carli Lloyd and David Beckham as they met with Long Island soccer...

Get Updates Via Email

Enter your email to be updated with all the latest news and special announcements.