“Girl on the Edge” at NYCIFF sends a powerful message about healing

By Daria Butler

Via facebook.com
Via Facebook

The impact of personal demons and the healing power of friendship are at the heart of the drama “Girl On the Edge”, which is to have it’s New York East Coast premiere screening at the NYC Independent Film Festival this Friday.

Based on the true story of director Jay Silverman’s own daughter, “Girl on the Edge” follows troubled 15 year old Hannah Green (Taylor Spreitler) after being raped at a party in addition to a phase of drug and alcohol abuse. Upon discovering nude photos of their daughter online, Hank and Anne Green make the difficult decision to send Hannah away to a Residential Treatment Center named Maheo that boasts a unique healing technique combining Equine and Horticulture Therapy.

Though reluctant at first, Hannah discovers that she is not alone, finding friendship in the community at Maheo and a kindred spirit in the therapy horse, Betsy, who, as the film highlights, very much resembles Hannah—neither of them like to be fenced in. The film also uses equine therapy to make a broader statement about rape culture: One may ask to touch the horse, but the decision is up to them.

With its intimate, raw aesthetic, occasionally unsteady camerawork and tense background music featuring violins and plucky piano, “Girl on the Edge” sends a powerful message about one’s personal path to healing, how each one is different and how it impacts those around us. If anything, there may have been one too many slow-motion, saccharine montages showing the residents finally bonding and letting go of their burdens, but there are enough darker, more uncomfortable scenes that it balances out. Likely because it was inspired by true events, the film depicts the haunting pain of our burdens in a palpable way, through difficult flashback scenes and symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Poignant and emotional, “Girl on the Edge” speaks to and celebrates the strength that lies within us, even when we feel at our weakest. In fact, the film’s social commentary on mental and emotional health even prompted the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs to invite Jay Silverman to speak before congress, advocating for facilities like Maheo to be made more accessible and affordable.

The inspiring film has already won a multitude of festival awards at San Luis Obispo, Cinema at the Edge, Worldfest Houston, Toronto Independent, Massachusetts Independent, and Independent Filmmaker Showcase. Tickets for the NYC Independent Film Festival can be purchased at https://www.nycindieff.com.

Daria Butler is a Contributing Writer. Email her at film@nyunews.com

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