Oct 19, 2021 - Things to Do
"Any Given Day" doc explores mental illness probation in Cook County
Two women on street in Chicago.
Filmmaker Margaret Byrne followed three subjects, including Angela (right), for years to make "Any Given Day," premiering Wednesday at the Chicago International Film Festival. Photo courtesy of Beti Films

On an average day, 25-30% of those locked up in Cook County Jail suffer from mental illness.

  • "Any Given Day," premiering Wednesday at the Chicago International Film Festival, looks at one attempt to address the issue: a special mental health probation program.
  • How it works: Detainees with mental illness who have pleaded guilty to a non-violent offense can be released on voluntary probation if they agree to treatment and regular status check-ins.

Why it matters: The success or failure of the program affects thousands of Chicagoans and their loved ones. And statistics don't tell the whole story.

On screen: Chicago filmmaker Margaret Byrne followed the wrenching stories of three people over several years as they navigated the mental health probation system. During filming, Byrne struggled with her own mental health issues.

The impetus: "I started filming 'Any Given Day' in 2015 after half of Chicago’s mental health clinics closed and the Cook County Jail became the largest single-site mental health facility in the country," Byrne told Axios.

  • "At the time, there was a lot of news coverage on the work the jail was doing to treat their detainees." But Byrne wanted to "film [probationers] over several years in order to see the long-term effects of their incarceration."
  • The result is a heartbreaking look at the challenges they face as they struggle to get their lives back.

Byrne's hope for her audience: "They will see the systemic issues that persist and find ways to support alternative solutions in their communities."

Details: "Any Given Day" premieres in-person on Wednesday at 7pm at the Gene Siskel Film Center. Tickets for virtual showings are available.

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