I'm Not Here
12 Jun 2022
A man with mental health issues films himself as he talks about his life.
This documentary was filmed at St James' Hospital, with Jakob as a newly-arrived patient, who decides to use his mobile phone to film himself as he talks about his thoughts and explains to the viewer what it is like living with mental illness and what life at a psychiatric unit is like. Jakob has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and has been brought to the hospital, where he is on suicide watch as he is considered to be a danger to himself. This feature is a sort of follow-up to Jakob's 2014 short documentary People Call Me Crazy, that also focuses on him being filmed as he explains what it is like living with mental health disorders.
Filmed in black-and-white, almost the entire documentary consists of Jakob sitting inside his room at the hospital and talking to the camera. After giving a brief tour of his room, he then proceeds to explain to the audience who he is and what his current situation is. He began suffering from paranoid schizophrenia as a teenager and gradually his condition got worse. He hears and sees things that are not there and his hallucinations include the voice of a man named Norman Bates (from Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho) and the visual presence of a terrifying scarecrow. He also believes that the Nazis are out to get him. He finds it difficult to understand the world and sometimes thinks about harming himself.
Regarding Jakob himself, he comes across as an intelligent, honest, calm and self-aware individual, although he does show signs that he has issues. Occasionally, he forgets what he was talking about and repeats himself and sometimes his illusions take effect, making him anxious and frightened.
The whole film is shown through a smartphone's camera. Save for a few occasions when Jakob moves the camera around, the camera remains static, with him looking into it and speaking.
This documentary is quite intriguing and dramatic. It raises awareness of mental health problems and effectively shows the effects such conditions have on people and for these reasons it is an achievement that deserves praise and recognition.