Teenage suicide is always an enormous societal problem. Hart and Dana Perry’s sadly sensational Boy Interrupted brings the human tragedy of losing a child through suicide a visual landscape previously unseen.
Evan Scott Perry is the son of married filmmakers Dana Perry and Hart Perry. Their finest hour as filmmakers comes at the highest of costs. On October 2, 2005, Evan fell to his death from his bedroom window inside the Perry family’s Manhattan apartment when he was 15-years-old.
Evan suffered from bi-polar disorder for much of his life. The title of HBO’s latest deeply moving doc is profound. Boy Interrupted is a celebration of life at its core and that fact must not be lost on the unspeakable pain Dana and Hart must feel at the loss of their promising and beautiful son Evan.
Through the medium the Perry’s know best – film -- they have crafted a tribute to a fallen soul that anyone heading to heaven would treasure. While at the same time showcasing the life through images and video sequences of their son Evan, Dana and Hart find themselves in the midst of Boy Interrupted -- a soaring documentary available on HBO.
The Perry filmmaking duo compiled interviews with Evan’s friends, fellow family members, teachers and doctors that provide the framework of this happy family narrative that is in fact a house of cards when it comes to Evan.
With parents who are filmmakers extraordinaire, your life would be quite documented. Evan’s is and it is this filmic capturing of the Perry’s son’s life that produces one of the most heart-wrenching and powerful family documentaries on screen in ages.
No better words capture the essence of Boy Interrupted as do those of the film’s director and Evan’s mother, Dana Perry.
“Boy Interrupted is a film I wish I did not have to make. Truly. That it actually came to be, that it exists as a real film, is almost beyond my comprehension,” Perry says.
“Even, the 15-year-old subject of the film and my son, died on a Sunday night and was buried six days later. That whole week is a blur – I don’t remember sleeping or much of anything else. It was a miasma of trauma and grief, of questions and inevitability, of family and friends, trays of food and disbelief. Somehow, in the midst of all of it, I go the idea to shoot the funeral – maybe just to have evidence that this was really happening.
Filmmaking has been the family business for almost 20 years now. Hart Perry and I started Perry Films in 1989, the year before Evan was born. We’ve been producing television documentaries, music programs and series ever since. Evan was a budding filmmaking himself, and often talked about taking over the company someday, except of course he wasn’t going to make ‘boring documentaries.’
I still can’t explain why this decision was made – on some lizard-brain documentary filmmaker level I guess I was aware that we were witness to an extraordinary experience of what bipolar illness and suicide really looked like – and that we had to film it, if only because no one else could…there is a story to tell about every suicide, unfortunately, this was ours.”
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