English freelance journalist Emily Reynolds was a teenager when she first developed bipolar disorder. It proved a hard diagnosis because it took around a decade of visits to health-care professionals and a cocktail of different medications in order to settle on the right ones. While on this journey, Reynolds researched and read the books that were available about mental illness, but she was unable to find one that resonated with her own unique condition. A Beginners Guide to Losing Your Mind is a result of Reynolds filling this gap.


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Sydney, AUSTRALIA: Essential Media, Kids on Speed(Photo by Sabine Albers)


Kids On Speed? is a factual and fly-on-the-wall series which follows five children who are suspected to have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It’s a powerful and revealing show that looks at this much-maligned, misunderstood and stigmatised illness that has been met with controversy (due to its resulting in more children being medicated). This documentary attempts to inform and debunk some myths associated with this disorder. It also manages to cover a lot of ground but it could have been a longer series and a little bit more comprehensive in detail.

The series is written, directed and produced by Marc Radomsky. It follows four families who have reached the ends of their tethers with their hyperactive, misbehaving and unruly children. They all agree to take part in a nine-week, multidisciplinary program where psychological behaviour therapies are combined with learning strategies and medication (if it is deemed necessary). One thing this series fails to describe is the impact the child’s diet is possibly having on their underlying condition.

The first episode introduces the children. Seth is an impulsive six year old who has young parents and his father Ryan was diagnosed with ADHD when he was the same age as his son. There are the siblings, Emily (11) and Samuel (6) who come from a large family and who constantly fight, scream and egg each other on. James is an emotionally immature, ten year old who has a terrible temper and violent streak and Corey (7) is now home-schooled after he threatened to hurt the kids at school (as well as himself). This initial episode covers the fortnight that was dedicated to assessing and diagnosing the children using evidence from home and at school and against the recognised diagnostic criteria.

The experts leading this program are: psychologist Prof. Mark Dadds, educational specialist, Dr. Samantha Hornery and paediatrician and ADHD Expert, Prof. Michael Kohn. After working together and with the children for two weeks they diagnose Seth with severe Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), mild ADHD and possible sleep deprivation while Samuel and Emily have ADHD which has most likely developed into ODD. Corey has ADHD, ODD, severe anxiety and possible autism. James is the most difficult child to diagnose but they initially think he has emotional immaturity and ODD.

This documentary series reveals how the parents have to be retrained in the areas of discipline, rewards and praise as well as being consistent with the child and a united force with each other. In some cases, they see some very positive results and this is often through a combination of behavioural strategies and medication. An issue with the series is that there is no postscript to describe what happened (including any further successes or relapses) following the conclusion of filming.

Ultimately, Kids On Speed? is a challenging social experiment that is very honest and revealing and will no doubt resonate with parents and friends of children who have ADHD and/or ODD. It’s not a definitive documentary by any means and it could have been longer (three hours seems short to condense five children’s lives for nine weeks). Despite this, it is still a thought-provoking, engaging and informative analysis of the trials and tribulations of a complex disorder, whose cause is not yet known and one that is only becoming increasingly more prevalent in society.


Originally published on 08 September 2014 at the following website:

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It’s not often that documentary filmmakers manage to capture their subject matter in an unobtrusive, fly-on-the-wall style manner. It’s even rarer for the filmmaker to achieve this while talking about sex, baby, and to show some explicit scenes of the deed without it all turning into sleazy voyeurism. But Love Hotel manages to achieve all this and more with its quirky ode to a Japanese phenomenon.

In Japan, public displays of affection are rare and the culture is one that is rather conservative and repressed. It is in this environment (plus one where long work hours are the norm and apartments are tiny, which makes sex at home difficult) that places like the Love Hotel thrive.

There are 37,000 of these establishments in Japan attracting 2.4 million people a day. These pay-by-the-hour guesthouses started in medieval times, but these days they welcome all and sundry. It could be people seeking out escape or anonymity; or a place for quiet or play; an avenue to act out fantasy; somewhere to express love or lust; or even the opportunity for some mindless self-indulgence and more.

Welcome to The Angel Love Hotel where the slogan could be- come one, come all. Here, filmmakers, Philip Cox and Hikaru Toda follow the eccentric hotel management and staff as well as the more interesting group of paying customers. We have a married couple wanting to reignite their sex lives, a lonely 71-year old man who watches porn with a sense of nostalgia, a young couple having an affair and a dominatrix with one of her fetish customers.

Of all the participants, the two most interesting groups of customers would have to be the divorced couple who meet once a week to reminisce and dance and the two gay lawyers. In the case of the latter couple, this is one of the few places that they can express their homosexual love and desire in a safe place.

This film is ultimately a revealing and intimate look at the public and private lives of these people. It is also an honest and sophisticated confessional by some everyday people that is sweet, fascinating and looks poised to breakdown a few barriers surrounding these mysterious establishments. As the Japanese government becomes more conservative and passes more draconian laws (a storyline that is explored in this film) this documentary could also serve as one final reminder of a cultural phenomenon that once was…


Originally published on 29 August 2014 at the following website:

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