New film by Princeton alumni is followed by discussion with the filmmakers and actor Lori Singer in the Cinema Today series
The Visual Arts Program in the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University and the Princeton Garden Theatre will present a special screening of Princeton alumni Todd and Jedd Wider’s documentary God Knows Where I Am as part of the new collaborative film series Cinema Today. Followed by an in-person discussion with the filmmakers and actor Lori Singer, the screening will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 13 at the Garden Theatre, 160 Nassau Street. Tickets are available to the public at princetongardentheatre.org. Princeton University students, faculty and staff may reserve a free ticket with ID at the Garden Theatre box office.
God Knows Where I Am documents the story of Linda Bishop, a New Hampshire mother who suffered from bipolar disorder and psychosis and was intermittently incarcerated and homeless, inevitably being committed for three years to a state psychiatric facility. Successfully fighting her sister’s protective attempts to be named her legal guardian, Bishop was able to refuse treatment and eventually procured an early, unconditional discharge. Upon her release, she wandered ten miles down the road from the hospital; broke into an abandoned farmhouse, and for the next four months lived off of rainwater and apples through one of the coldest winters on record. Unable to leave the house, she became its prisoner and remained there, a prisoner of her own mind, eventually starving to death. Her body was discovered several months later and with it a diary that Bishop kept documenting her journey. The diary is poignant, beautiful, funny, spiritual, and deeply disturbing. It is one of the only known instances of someone documenting their own starvation.
God Knows Where I Am “captures profound poetic truths about homelessness, mental illness and loneliness which are rendered with such artistry and sensitivity that this is a film for the ages,” according to a Film Corner review.
Another review by Christopher Orr, a senior editor and the principal film critic at The Atlantic, notes, “God Knows Where I Am, the beautiful, evocative and ultimately heartbreaking tale of Linda Bishop. The Widers use a variety of cameras and film formats to grant the movie an almost dreamlike feel, and they’re aided immeasurably by Bishop’s meticulous daily journal, which is read with tenderness and humanity by Lori Singer, bringing Bishop elegantly to life as the chronicler of her own story.”
The current Cinema Today series has been organized by Director of the Program in Visual Arts Joe Scanlan and Mike Kamison, programming director of the Garden Theatre. The series tackles issues within the film industry today through conversations with four contemporary filmmakers – all of whom have a connection to Princeton. Events in the series this year have included screenings and discussions with filmmakers Su Friedrich, Charlie Kaufman, Terrence Malick, Afia Nathaniel, and Kelly Reichardt, among others.
God Know Where I Am marks the directorial debut of Jedd and Todd Wider, brothers and Princeton alumni from the Classes of 1989 and 1986, respectively. Over a 15-year career as producers, their work includes numerous critically and commercially successful feature documentary films including the 2012 King’s Point nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short; the multiple Primetime Emmy and Peabody Award-winning Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God (2012) directed by Alex Gibney; the Emmy Award-nominated Semper Fi: Always Faithful (2011) directed by Rachel Libert and Tony Hardmon; the multiple Emmy Award-nominated Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer (2010) directed by Alex Gibney; Peabody Award and 2008 Academy Award Winner for Best Documentary and 2009 Emmy Award Winner for Best Documentary, Taxi to the Dark Side (2007) directed by Alex Gibney; the 2008 Sundance favorite Kicking It (2007) broadcast by ESPN, about the Homeless World Cup soccer tournament; the POV film A Dream in Doubt (2007) about the first post 9/11 revenge killing; Morgan Spurlock’s What Would Jesus Buy? (2007) about obsession with materialism and consumption; and the critically acclaimed Beyond Conviction (2006) about restorative justice and victim-offender mediation in the Pennsylvania prison system, broadcast on MSNBC. In 2011, the brothers were each nominated by the Producers Guild of America for Outstanding Producer of Documentary Theatrical Motion Pictures.
Singer, who provides the voice of Bishop in the film, is a Golden Globe-winning actress who has starred in such films as Footloose, Robert Altman’s Short Cuts, The Falcon and the Snowman, The Man with One Red Shoe, Alan Rudolph’s Trouble in Mind and Equinox, and, most recently, Experimenter. She also starred in the television series Fame and VR5. A graduate of Juilliard and a musical prodigy, she is an accomplished cellist, performing with Yo Yo Ma in Atom Egoyan’s Bach Cello Suite No. 4: Sarabande.
The Cinema Today series is supported through the John Sacret Young ’69 Lecture Series fund. Sacret Young is a 1969 graduate of Princeton and an author, producer, director, and screenwriter. He has been nominated for seven Emmy Awards and seven Writers Guild of America (WGA) Awards, winning two WGA Awards. He is perhaps best known for co-creating, along with William F. Broyles Jr., China Beach, the critically acclaimed ABC-TV drama series about medics and nurses during the Vietnam War, and for his work on the television drama The West Wing. Young has also received a Golden Globe and a Peabody Award, and his original mini-series about the Gulf War, Thanks of a Grateful Nation, was honored with his fifth Humanitas Prize nomination.