Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival offers a variety of documentaries about African Americans

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The Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival runs all this week at Shaker Square on the east side.  The films range from international to Cleveland-based features, including a documentary about one former Cleveland Browns player.

ideastream's Darrielle Snipes has more.

The documentary "Pass Interference" examines Devone Bess's on- and off-the-field struggles with mental illness.

“It is depressing for people not to understand you because it was tough. It was hard. And I am working through it,” said Bess in the film.  

The film’s director, Plain Dealer sports reporter Branson Wright says during the 2014 season he noticed the former Brown's wide receiver didn't show up to practice.  Then he got in trouble with the law. Wright says mental health isn't really talked about in the black community. And there is a perception athletes are supposed to be invincible.

“Especially when you look at athletes, they are big and bad and nothing is supposed to hurt them just physically but not mentally. Nothing is supposed to be wrong with them. They are rich. But a lot of athletes like a lot of Americans deal with mental health issues.

 Wright says, Bess wasn’t the only person affected by his illness. “Mental health doesn't only affect the victim but your family your friends. So everyone shares in what happens.”

In the Documentary, Wright also interviews Bess’s therapist, Doris E. Cohen.  

"Therapy is complex,” she said.  “It is time consuming and for the masses it is impractical. He feels powerless. He feels victimized. He feels overwhelmed and doesn't know where to turn."  

Wright says Bess wanted to do this film in order to help others.  He continues to struggle with his mental health issues. Recently, police arrested Bess after he barricaded himself in his Arizona home.

Pass Interference debuts at the Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival on Wednesday at 8:30pm.



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