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"OC87": Conquering Illness by Making Art 

Wednesday, Jun 20 2012
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A largely first-person documentary about living with a range of disorders, OC87 is also, in a sense, about a long hiatus from moviemaking. Nearly three decades ago, Bud Clayman was majoring in radio, television, and film at Temple University when his mental health began deteriorating; a drawn-out chain of diagnoses followed (enumerated in the film's mock-epic subtitle: The Obsessive Compulsive, Major Depression, Bipolar, Asperger's Movie), as did an eight-year stay in a residential treatment facility. Now running his Philadelphia-based family's foundation and living on his own at middle age, Clayman (who co-directed OC87 with doc pros Glenn Holsten and Scott Johnston) says early on he wants "to show the hell that goes on in my mind." In a few scattered day-to-day scenes (morning shave, bus ride to work, etc.) he narrates an approximation of his self-castigating train of thought, in which he's constantly chiding himself for "inappropriate" thoughts and actions. But the tone here is generally path-to-recovery optimistic: Clayman reunites with important figures from his past, interviews quasi-celebrities who have gone public about their struggles with mental illness (a Bay Area radio personality, a General Hospital cast member), and does karaoke. He also logs periodic video diaries, often about time spent with his parents. To be sure, there are more artful and focused documentaries, but OC87 still stands as moving evidence that Clayman's trust in the value of the filmmaking process ultimately outweighed the extreme difficulty he says he has making even the smallest decisions.

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Brian Miller

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