The creator of one of the movies playing at the Macon Film Festival this weekend spent several years of his childhood in Macon.
Decades after moving away, Tamlin Hall, returned to his old elementary school Thursday afternoon. He attended Springdale Elementary in the 1980s.
"I was bullied when I was in school and on the playground. I was overweight. I didn't have very many friends," says Hall, until he met a friend so generous and compassionate that he would eventually inspire Hall's award-winning film, Holden On.
Hall says the film shows what it's like to silently struggle with a mental illness. It's based off the true story of Holden Layfield's life.
Layfield and Hall were high school classmates in LaGrange, Georgia.
According to Hall, Layfield was diagnosed with schizophrenia and substance abuse before taking his own life.
"You have a secret, I have a secret, we all have secrets. Holden's secret was that he had an undiagnosed mental illness and he began to self-medicate to try and escape it," says Hall. "it's very common and it's something that we all need to talk about honestly and openly."
According to The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US.
On average, 121 Americans commit suicide every day, that's about 45,000 deaths by suicide per year.
"What we wanted to create was this movement that was attached to the film that could last far beyond the lifespan of the film," says Hall.
So hall created an initiative called "I Am Holden On" as a way for teens to talk openly about mental health and suicide through art.
"I believe that teens have a strong voice," says Hall.
Hall visits schools all across the country and this week he's grateful that his film and art initiative have brought him home to Macon.
"I could not be more excited and thrilled and honored that I get to come back to a city that I grew up in and still have ties to, and to be able to share a film that means so much to me, and a story that means so much to me and a family that means so much to me," says Hall.
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