“Presenting Problems” is the first volume in a series of short films that present a variety of psychological “problems” faced by both patients and therapists. The films are interested in raising psychological questions but they dare not portrayals of people with particular symptoms nor are they allegories about depression, anxiety, and so on. The films are short and sweet stories that use humor, different visual media and compelling stories to raise psychological questions for classroom discussions, clinical training and entertainment for those who are interested in such things.
Although the films are not explicitly about therapy, they are all concerned with the question of what is therapeutic and convey different ways different types of psychic pain. The hope is that they provide new ways to discuss (and think about) ideas about character, internal dynamics, symptoms, conflict, the unconscious, notions of what facilitates (or restricts) understanding, allows for (or hampers) change and promotes (or flattens) vitality.
Since their inception, “Presenting Problems” has been shown in psychoanalytic psychodynamic training centers (The Psychotherapy Institute in Berkeley), psychoanalytic clinics (Access Institute), psychoanalytic treatment centers (Masonic Family Center), colleges (both in fine art classes at University of California at Berkeley and psychology classes at Dominican University). They have been shown at annual professional events (the 2013 Oregon Psychiatric Meeting), in theaters (Delancey Street Theater), at fundraising events (at Lutecium’s film night) and at cultural centers (Oregon Jewish Museum). They have won several film awards (California Film Awards, Accolade Competition, Los Angeles Film Awards, DeFraming the Frame) been translated into other languages, appeared in film festivals and reviewed in JAPA (the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association).
The films have been called science fiction without the science, plot-driven thought-poems, comedies about tragedies, external fantasies about inner realities and take us on faraway journeys without anything of note happening. Each film uses a different visual idiom (drawing, collage, movie stills, photographs) to convey some of the particular paradoxes of the subject matter’s psychological dilemma and although they all deal with serious themes, they still are able to delight and provoke, appealing to all types of audiences, approaching complicated themes with very simple language.