Cleveland International Film Festival } March 25 – April 5, 2020 } Tower City Cinemas

Battling, not only on the court, but emotionally

March 28, 2019   |   posted by Lara Klaber in Filmmakers

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We idolize sports figures in our culture. If the team is winning, we overlook any “issues” a player may have. We may chalk it up to their passion for the game, or their drive to produce a winner; we certainly don’t want to blame it on depression, anxiety, or any other mental illness.

“We’ve seen athletes come back from drugs, from orthopaedic ruin, even from prison,” says Johnny Sweet, director of “Quiet Storm.” “But you never see a guy, especially a star player, come back from what many dismiss as crazy.”

In 2010, after sinking the game-winning shot that made the Los Angeles Lakers world champions, Ron Artest thanked his psychologist, Dr. Santhi Periasamy. It was a bold move, and one that paved the way for others to start talking openly about mental illness, including Cleveland Cavalier Kevin Love, who recently opened up about his panic attacks.

“Ron said those words because he is truly guileless,” says Sweet. “There was no plan, no [public service announcement] pre-built campaign.”

Sweet knew that Artest didn’t have to share that information “in front of the world at the top of the mountain.” As a filmmaker, he felt that this story should be amplified for that reason.

Artest, now known as Metta World Peace, had battled with demons for years. He grew up in Queensbridge Houses in New York City, the county’s largest public housing development, and had a difficult childhood. It wasn’t something he outgrew, either; it followed him through college and into the NBA.

In addition to hearing from the subject himself, Sweet talks with Kobe Bryant and Jermaine O’Neal, both former teammates of Artest, and other NBA stars. Sweet was surprised by the “myriad of emotions and reactions” he witnessed from all those interviewed. Artest’s story is “full of surprises and iconic signposts—funny, tragic, and in the end, improbably inspirational,” he says.

“Quiet Storm” has screened at several other film festivals across the country, and Sweet has seen the audience react. “There’s been crying, laughter, just a whole mix of different emotional reactions,” he says. During the Q-and-A sessions after the film, he notes, some audience members have confessed that they also are battling mental struggles.

—Anne M. DiTeodoro

PHOTO: Johnny Sweet in Queensbridge, Ron Artest’s neighborhood in Queens, NY.“Right on the court where he (Ron) learned to play ball from his pops,” says Sweet.

PDF  Download Related PDF [1.6 MB]

Related Screenings:
03/28/19 @ 8:00 PM – Quiet Storm: The Ron Artest Story
03/29/19 @ 1:50 PM – Quiet Storm: The Ron Artest Story

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