Hailed as one of the most distinguished families in American literature, the Hemingways have always exposed their brilliance while often living in the shadows of deep emotional struggle. Two-Time Academy Award winning filmmaker Barbara Kopple’s newest documentary focuses on Mariel Hemingway, a granddaughter of the legendary writer Ernest, as she explores her family’s disturbing history of mental illness and suicide. As a child, Mariel grew up on the Hemingway family farm in Idaho, the same place her famous grandfather took his own life months before she was born. The youngest of the three sisters, Mariel followed her older sister Margaux into acting and modeling, while her oldest sister Muffet struggled with mental illness and drifted in and out of mental hospitals. Kopple’s bold film intertwines haunting archival footage of the three Hemingway sisters with scenes from Mariel’s life today as she seeks to live a rigorously healthy lifestyle to combat what appears to be a difficult family birthright. Mariel’s courageous journey of introspection and reflection allows her to view her family that has shaped her life through new eyes and, for the first time strive for peace and acceptance.
“Mariel courageously shares her family’s personal story with both heart and dignity in this extraordinary film told through the powerful lens of filmmaker Barbara Kopple,” said Sheri Salata, president, OWN. “Not only is it a compelling and inspiring film, but we also hope it can help encourage important conversations around the topic of mental illness and suicide prevention.”
“‘Running from Crazy’ gave me the incredible chance to delve into the rich and complex history of the Hemingways, a family who has left such an enduring mark on literature and culture. My hope is that this film changes perceptions of the family, and also, more importantly, elicits a new compassion and understanding in how we treat those grappling with suicide or mental illness,” said Kopple. “For me, it’s a moving and powerful story that offers up hope and the sense that none of us are alone in our struggles.”
“Mental illness is overwhelmingly misunderstood and creates fear for so many. I’m hoping ‘Running From Crazy’ gives people permission to share their stories and know that they are not alone. Perhaps by sharing my life with others they will feel supported in speaking out and getting help,” said Hemingway.
“Running from Crazy” is produced by Cabin Creek Films for OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. Produced and directed by Barbara Kopple. Produced by David Cassidy. Executive producers are Barbara Kopple, Erica Forstadt, Lisa Erspamer and Oprah Winfrey.