Monday, November 14, 2022

New film explores complexities of parenting, ADHD diagnosis and its consequences

Posted by Elena del Valle on October 12, 2022

The Other Tom poster
The Other Tom poster

Photo: Outsider Pictures

Outsider Pictures is releasing a new production in New York October 14, 2022. In The Other Tom filmmakers Rodrigo Pla and Laura Santullo present a painful to watch 111-minute drama of Elena, a single mother in El Paso, Texas, and Tom, her nine year old son who teachers identify as a problem child. Their lives, already stretched financially and emotionally, take a turn for the worse after he is diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The film explores the controversial diagnosis, subsequent prescription of psychiatric medication, the school system’s intense pressure on parents to comply with a chemical solution and the concept of excessive medication in childhood. According to a spokesperson it will be available for online streaming.

Julia Chávez plays Elena and Israel Rodríguez Bertorelli plays Tom. The film, in English and Spanish with subtitles, premiered in Venice in 2021 and includes on screen sexual situations. No rating was listed in the press release.

Following a troubling accident Elena becomes concerned about the possible side effects of the prescription medication her son is taking. When concerned for his well-being she stops administering the drugs to Tom, Social Services threaten to remove him from her custody unless he resumes taking the powerful psychiatric medication.

“The fact that we are parents was the single overwhelming motivator in our making this film,” Plá said of his collaboration with wife Santullo on The Other Tom in promotional materials provided via email by a publicist. “It’s nearly impossible these days to remain oblivious as a parent to the myriad of mental disorders and pathologies our children are diagnosed with, based entirely on behavior. It has become normal to create syndromes for behaviors and then develop drugs to ‘treat’ them. Increasingly, overworked teachers demand that their students be put on psychiatric drugs to quell disruption, and more and more doctors oblige, prescribing them like candy…but parents also, out of ignorance or convenience or sheer desperation, may find themselves surrendering to this mindset and medicating their children. This generation carries our hopes, and with this film, we hope to open eyes to a more human approach to helping them to adulthood.”

Chavez is a graduate of the Pearson College UWC in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Plá, director and writer, is a Mexican-Uruguayan director, screenwriter and producer. In addition to this production his feature films are La Zona (Venice, 2007), Desierto adentro (Cannes, 2008), La demora (Berlinale, 2012), and Un monstruo de mil cabezas (Venice, 2015). Santullo, director and writer, is a narrative and screenplay writer. In addition to this production her work as a screenwriter includes the feature films Un monstruo de mil cabezas, La demora, Desierto adentro, and La Zona. The Other Tom was produced by Buenaventura Cine and BHD Films.