When he was six-years-old, Dinesh Das Sabu’s parents died. Raised by his older siblings, he had little idea who his parents were or where he came from. Through making Unbroken Glass, he attempts to piece together their story and his own. Uncovering a silenced family history and disturbing truths, Dinesh and his siblings must finally reconcile the past, confronting the trauma of losing their parents and the specter of mental illness.
This moving documentary is among the films was slated for screening May 1 at the Los Angeles Asian American Film Festival. Among other places it will be screened through 2017, is May 2, at the University of Phoenix as part of Mental Health Awareness Month and Asian American Heritage Month; May 6, at the Hindu American Seva Communities in University of Maryland, in Shady Grove, MD; May 9, as part of the Reel Mind Theater & Film Series at Rochester, N.Y.; May 10, at the Skokie library in Oakton, Illinois; June 11, at ASHA International’s event in Hillsboro, Oregon; and in Oct. 24, in the Death Talk Goes to the Movies Film Series, in Portland, Oregon.
According to India West, Unbroken Glass is also one of 8 documentaries made by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, which will debut on May 16 with its television premier, on World Channel, as part of the program “America ReFramed.” The program is a partnership among World Channel, Center for Asian American Media, Pacific Islanders in Communication and KQED San Francisco.
The 55-minute film documents Sabu’s journey to understand his long-dead parents, and involves his travels to Illinois, California, New Mexico and India, tracing their life journey. Saba pieces together the story of his mother’s schizophrenia and suicide, and how his family dealt with it in an age and culture where mental illness was often misunderstood, scorned and taboo. The documentary weaves together Sabu’s journey of discovery with cinema-verite scenes of his five siblings dealing with still raw emotions and consequences of their parents’ lives and deaths.
Dwarka and Susheela Sabu lived complicated lives bridging two countries and cultures and this is a nuanced story of one family’s struggle as well as an impressionistic portrait of who Dinesh’s parents were as complex people subject to social forces. Sabu has said he hopes that telling this story will raise awareness and reduce the stigma of mental illness.
According to the World Health Organization, addressing mental health is a global priority: 1 in 4 people in the world deal with a mental health issue; 20% of the world’s children and adolescents have mental disorders or problems.