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Here One Day cover photo

Here One Day 2012

Highly Recommended

Distributed by Distributed by Two Suns Media
Produced by Produced by Kathy Leichter
Directed by Directed by Kathy Leichter
DVD , color, 88 min.

Jr. High - General Adult
Japan, Popular Culture, Music Trade, Singers

Date Entered: 12/06/2013

ALA Notable:
Reviewed by: Reviewed by Patricia B. McGee, Media Librarian

In 1995, after years of struggle with what she referred to as a “mild case” of manic depressive illness, Nina Leichter committed suicide by jumping from a window in the family’s eleventh floor apartment. Here One Day is the heartbreaking story of Nina Leichter’s illness, it’s impact on her family, and her family’s efforts to heal their pain and loss. Nina recorded her thoughts on 60 minute audio cassettes. Film director and daughter Kathy, “the keeper of the Leichter museum,” found the tapes when she moved back into her parents’ apartment, but packed them into a closet where they stayed for sixteen years. As her family increased they became pressed for more space. She rediscovered the recordings which provide a poignant commentary about Nina’s illness.

By all accounts Nina was brilliant and talented; a teacher and a leader in the teachers’ union movement. Her husband Franz was the son of committed German socialists who endowed him with a heritage of political activism. He focused on his career and politics--serving in the New York State Assembly. Nina on the other hand was occupied with two small children and felt angry and rejected. She confessed, “I simply couldn’t juggle all the balls.” Her illness caused increasingly erratic behavior, but her daughter allowed as how, “she was a funky mother and I loved that about her.” Nina became active in mental health issues, but her relations with her son became distant, and Kathy ended up as caretaker.

Here One Day puts a very personal face on how families cope with serious mental illness. Nina Leichter’s bipolar illness cycles became increasing more severe, and the lithium that had kept her illness in check no longer worked. Franz felt very much alone; son Josh disagreed with the electroshock therapy that she underwent and referred to what he saw as “over medication.” The Leichter family’s love for Nina is clearly obvious; their anguish that somehow they couldn’t find a remedy for her illness is painfully apparent. Leichter’s film makes it abundantly clear that mental illness is a family health issue; in the absence of a clearly defined medical protocol, families painfully struggle to do what they feel is right for their loved one.

While not a easy film to watch, Leichter’s shots of the window and the wall where Nina fell are chilling. Here One Day is a brilliantly insightful examination of mental illness and is highly recommended for all public and university libraries.