12-year-old Waimate girl's suicide documentary to screen at US film festival

Mercedes van Royen's documentary about suicide, Just Another Word, will screen to an American audience in June.
JOHN BISSET/FAIRFAX NZ

Mercedes van Royen's documentary about suicide, Just Another Word, will screen to an American audience in June.

A Waimate primary school pupil is excited her documentary has been selected from nearly 1000 entries to be shown at a United States film festival. 

St Patrick's School pupil Mercedes van Royen's documentary Just Another Word was one of 20 winners of the Outlook for Someday film-making challenge for young Kiwis last year. 

Her documentary was about the effect her grandfather committing suicide had on her and it made an impression on Vermont's Scout Film Festival organisers.

The 12-year-old was was surprised to receive an email on Wednesday saying her film was one of the 132 films selected from 987 submissions.

READ MORE: 'Powerful' film wins award

"I didn't know my film was entered," Mercedes said.

She later learned that Outlook for Someday submitted the films that won awards in the 2016 challenge to film festivals and competitions all over the world. 

She believed one other challenge winner's film would be also screen in Vermont. The festival runs from June 9 to 11.

"I thought that all the films that won were absolutely amazing. To know that my one has been selected for a film festival … in America, that's pretty exciting." 

She was a little bit nervous about how it would be received by an American audience. 

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"It's a controversial topic. Do people in America think differently?" 

Her video appeared on Stuff in December and received a lot of a positive comments, as well as a few less-than positive comments. 

"They were saying 'Unless you've been through it you don't know what it's like'." 

Mercedes said it was a bit rough, as the film was clearly about someone she loved and was close to. 

"I was with him all the time … I would go to their house all the time."

She was unsure if she would be able to attend the screening, but was planning on fundraising to try and make it happen. 

Connected Media project manager Chris Widdup said the selection showed Mercedes' film had global appeal. 

Connected Media Charitable Trust helps run Outlook for Sunday. 

"It's a massive success for Mercedes," Widdup said.  

Just Another Word has been viewed more than 12,700 times since it went up in October last year, he said. 

"That's high … more than normal. Her film's had a lot of interest." 

Widdup said he hoped to run the same workshop Mercedes took part in last year in Timaru again this year. 

WHERE TO GET HELP

Lifeline (open 24/7) - 0800 543 354

Depression Helpline (open 24/7) - 0800 111 757

Healthline (open 24/7) - 0800 611 116

Samaritans (open 24/7) - 0800 726 666

Suicide Crisis Helpline (open 24/7) - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO). For people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.

Alcohol Drug Helpline (open 24/7) - 0800 787 797. Or text 8691 for free.

Your local Rural Support Trust - 0800 787 254 (0800 RURAL HELP).

Youthline (open 24/7) - 0800 376 633. Or text 234 for free between 8am and midnight, or email talk@youthline.co.nz.

Kidsline (open 24/7) - 0800 543 754. For those aged 18 and under. Calls between 4pm and 9pm will be answered by specially-trained teenage counsellors.

0800 WHATSUP children's helpline - 0800 9428 787 between 1pm and 10pm on weekdays and from 3pm to 10pm on weekends. Online chat is available from 7pm to 10pm every day at www.whatsup.co.nz.

For further information, contact the Mental Health Foundation's free Resource and Information Service on (09) 623 4812 or info@mentalhealth.org.nz.

 - Stuff

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