Screening of 'Toward Daylight' set Jan. 20 in Carnegie Cinema

An on-campus screening of a documentary about suicide and its survivors produced by a team of senior faculty members and students in the College of Communications will begin at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 20, in Carnegie Cinema on Penn State's University Park campus.

The film made its world premiere with two off-campus sessions during the fall and drew big crowds and positive responses.

The film, “Toward Daylight,” focuses on suicide and survivorship in Centre County, Pennsylvania. It was produced for the Centre County Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Those initial screenings were conducted in October at Bellefonte High School in Bellefonte, Pa., and in November at the State Theatre in State College, Pa. Each attracted capacity crowds, and each was followed by a question-and-answer session with those involved in the production of the compelling film.

The on-campus screening will include a similar question-and-answer session after the film.

“Toward Daylight” was directed by Barbara Bird, an associate professor in Penn State's Department of Film-Video and Media Studies; produced by Andrea Seeley, who earned her degree in film-video in 2006; and Ken Campbell, a senior film-video major, served as cinematographer. Film-video alumnus Brian Miller, who earned his degree in 2009, and Kenny Dodson, who graduated in May, also assisted with the project.

“As I researched the issue in Centre County, I was amazed by the number of people touched by suicide,” said Bird. “In making the film, we also found a community of people here who felt free to talk about it.”

Susan Kennedy, who helped create the local suicide prevention chapter and serves as a board member for the group, anxiously anticipated the film’s debut. She was then justifiably excited after it was screened.

For her group, the film provides a resource to complement existing programming. Local volunteers have staged annual fundraising walks for suicide prevention programs for several years, and the most recent Community Walk for Centre County Out of the Darkness raised about $38,000.

Suicide is never the final word for those left behind. It alters lives forever and crosses all human boundaries. “Toward Daylight” struggles to find the hope necessary for the living to face, and then overcome, the pain and loss of a loved one to suicide.

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Last Updated March 21, 2011