Filmed over two years in collaboration with the Bristol Hearing Voices Network, a self-help group for people who hear voices, In the Real is a 59min observational documentary film which goes to the heart of the voice-hearing experience. Who, or what, are the voices that only these men can hear? What do they say and what do they mean? And how does hearing voices transform their sense of self and world?

Our guides for this journey are the voice-hearers themselves. The filmmaker has been given access to this remarkable community forged on the medicated margins of society. From outpatient clinic to riverside, bedsit to park bench, In the Real offers a rare insight into the inner logic of each character’s madness through the intimate moments of the everyday. By exploring the ways voice-hearers negotiate the complex deadlocks of psychosis and help each other to make sense of their unusual experiences, the film shows how, contrary to popular misconception, hearing voices can play a positive, creative and stabilising role in people’s lives.

These are stories of resilience and survival, of loss and love, of the creation of a world outside the mainstream, a place where one can remain open to all kinds of human experience. These are powerfully emotive stories that explore the boundaries of human subjectivity, taking the viewer to a place where the available mental health discourses start to break down. In telling these stories, In the Real will lead viewers to ask new questions about the nature and reality of mental health and illness.

Trainee Clinical Psychologist Lois Arkley’s review of the UK launch of In the Real, which took place at the Tyneside Cinema in Newcastle upon Tyne on 14 July 2015, can be found here.

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