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Melbourne Documentary Film Festival: Dive into the details behind “Every Line” by Mitchell Withers

Have you ever wondered what it takes to confront our deepest fears? Every Line explores the potent narrative of Betty, a hermit by choice, grappling with the memories of a life-altering incident that occurred two and a half decades ago. This intimate chronicle probes into the themes of rejuvenation, hope, and the intricate nature of trauma.

The Solitude Sanctuary

Our protagonist, Betty, leads a secluded life, with wallabies and chickens for company, her home turning into a safe haven shielding her from the outer world. The emotional baggage of her past becomes the impetus for her to step into a supported arts practice, channeling her agony into beautifully crafted lines. With her art recognized in an exhibition, Betty takes a leap of faith and steps out of her comfort zone.

Every Line amplifies the voice of resilience, emphasizing the role of the community in fostering recovery and understanding the profundity of survival. It reminds us that art, as a form of therapy, has the power to mend our deepest wounds and guide us towards self-discovery.

In Australia, even though there are several dedicated days promoting mental health awareness and suicide prevention, the stigma associated with mental health conditions is still pervasive. Individuals suffering from such conditions retreat into their shells, becoming invisible to evade misunderstanding and mistreatment.

More than mental health

Dealing with mental health conditions is an uphill battle. It’s multifaceted, daunting, and unpredictable. Without accepting the complex reality of these conditions, we isolate individuals, pushing them towards the peripheries of societal acceptance. 

Every Line presents a heartfelt journey of a woman combating trauma and the constant specter of suicide, underlining the strength required to keep going.

Director Mitchell Withers takes us back eleven years to a Sunday morning, where he voluntarily checked himself into the Emergency Department at Fremantle Hospital, contemplating suicide. 

Fast forward to a gallery opening in Colac, Western Victoria, Mitchell finds himself engrossed in a conversation with Betty, the creator of the emotive landscapes adorning the walls, which resonate with titles like “Bad Thoughts” and “Standing Strong”.

The final cuts

Over half a year, Mitchell and Betty formed a bond, discussing the ways medical institutions inadvertently amplified feelings of alienation. Battling post traumatic stress disorder and borderline personality disorder, Betty felt these labels were hindering her from getting the support she needed. An intense solitude on a bush property was her coping mechanism.

 Their shared experiences formed the basis of a candid exploration of mental health, devoid of pathological bias.

The production process was a thoughtful blend of observational shooting and stylized scenes, ensuring they didn’t retraumatize Betty or trigger distress. The essence of the film was to forge an emotional connection to the lived experiences of complex mental health conditions.

The anthem

Every Line is a story of hope and renewal, encouraging the audience to seek solace in their own stories and realize the incredible healing power of compassion and connection. As we follow Betty’s journey, we learn about the resilience it takes to confront our shadows and move forward.

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