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Thursday, Oct. 2, 2008 12:58 am

A WEEK FOR UNDERSTANDING

A movie that Roger Ebert calls a "serious film about mental illness and a sentimental heart warmer" will be shown free of charge Saturday at Memorial Medical Center. Canvas — a 2006 film starring Academy Award winner Marcia Gay Harden and Emmy Award winner Joe Pantoliano – depicts a 10-year-old boy's experiences dealing with his mother's schizophrenia. The story was inspired by writer/director Joe Greco's childhood.

The screening is the centerpiece of Mental Illness Awareness Week sponsored by the local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. NAMI gave this movie its Outstanding Media Award.

Other events planned for the week include a Day of Prayer for mental illness recovery and understanding, and a breakfast featuring Connie Clark, of Illinois Mental Health Collaborative for Access and Choice, speaking about transcending the effects of trauma and serious mental illness.

NAMI's work continues year-round, with three monthly support groups – two for adults living with mental illness, and one for parents or caregivers of mentally ill children. In February, NAMI will offer a free 12-week course for families coping with mental illness.

Canvas will be shown Sun., Oct. 5, at 3 p.m. at Memorial's Wedeberg Conference Center, 701 N. 1st St. NAMI recommends calling ahead to register, at 788-3333. First Christian Church hosts NAMI's prayer service Tue., Oct 7, at 6:30 p.m. at 700 S. 6th St. NAMI's annual breakfast is Fri., Oct. 10 at 7:30 a.m., at Northfield Conference Center, 3280 Northfield Dr. Registration is $10. Call 891-5570 for more information.

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