A FILM BY JESSICA DAMOUNI
Leila spends the entire day getting ready for her estranged friend's birthday party. Her obsession with being “good”, as she defines the word, leads her back into her usual self-destructive cycle of behavior. Just when she thinks she’s got everything under control, a tense phone call with her mother pushes her over the edge.
'Be Good' began out of an urge to create whilst isolated in lockdown due to the Covid-19 Pandemic in 2020. What began as a challenge to make a film in one location with a crew of two people (myself and my partner Montgomery Mauro) turned into something much more meaningful.
The film is inspired by my own personal decade long battle with an eating disorder.
Being isolated in quarantine reminded me of the isolation I felt whilst in my disorder. It is a powerful illness that keeps its sufferers hidden and alone.
As an Arab actress, I felt the lack of nuanced roles for MENA actors and I noticed the representation of ED’s on film and TV is very narrow, not only when it comes to ethnic representation but also in regards to different body/age types and gender. There are so many variations of this disease and it does not discriminate against who it affects. I personally did not believe I had an eating disorder until I heard my story in someone else’s.
I felt moved to share my story and create a film following a Middle Eastern woman whose defining characteristic isn't centered around her race but rather, centered around her mental health.
In doing so, I hope to raise awareness around the violent, cyclical, lonely nature of eating disorders and the danger in glorifying diet culture. I hope to help someone suffering silently recognize themselves on screen and know they are not alone.
JESSICA DAMOUNI is an Australian/American actress of Middle Eastern descent currently based in LA. She moved from Perth, Australia to New York at the age of 17 to study acting at The Lee Strasberg Institute and improv comedy at The Upright Citizen’s Brigade. Having been cast as leading roles in the films Choke (Outfest LA, Nominated! Best Actress NOVA Film Festival), Like Salt, Salam (Tribeca Film Festival), Inspector Ike (Winner! Best Narrative Feature NOLA Film Festival) and guest starring on shows on CBS and HBO, Be Good is Jessica’s directorial debut.
Since being in recovery from the deadliest mental illness in the US, she is passionate about sharing her story in a raw, honest way in hopes of inspiring more compassion, understanding and awareness around eating disorders.
MONTGOMERY MAURO is an award winning filmmaker and actor from Pound Ridge, New York
He has directed three narrative short films, 8 Million is the Loneliest Number, Old Flames and Clare the Cleaner, and No2Mauro's six-part web series The Show. His documentary short Bar Sepia is an official selection at NYC Web Fest and currently on the festival circuit.
Montgomery is the co-founder of No2Mauro Productions. Their debut feature film Exposure 36. will premiere at SCI-FI London 21.
Under the No2Mauro banner, Montgomery has also produced multiple theatrical productions and a series with a live audience.
JESSICA DAMOUNI Leila
ARCHANA RAJAN VO - Zoe
JORDAN BIRKLAND VO - Influencer
KATIE SICKING VO - Davina
ADRIEN PELLERIN VO - Stephen
ADRIAN FRIMPONG. VO - Rudi
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY Montgomery Mauro
SOUND DESIGN Jasmin Klinger
EDITOR Jessica Damouni
MUSIC BY 2 Story Cabin
COLOR GRADING Tanner Maroney
GRAPHIC DESIGN Ryan Galela
SOUND MIXER Montgomery Mauro
LIGHT DESIGN Montgomery Mauro
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER Leni Entertainment
CO PRODUCER No2Mauro Productions
SCREENPLAY BY Jessica Damouni
DIRECTED BY Jessica Damouni
FESTIVALS AND SCREENINGS:
25th Urbanworld Film Festival (World Premiere, Oct 1-5)
SOHO International Film Festival ( Nov 4-9)
Reel Recovery Film Festival (Nov 5-11)
Set entirely in one room, Be Good, gives us an inside look at the shame, pressure and isolation that come with the deadliest mental illness in the world. “The film explores the isolating nature of mental illness and takes place entirely in the main character’s bedroom. As a New Yorker (by way of Australia), I am excited to share the film with NY audiences, who I know understand this feeling of isolation, even more so after over a year in the pandemic” states Damouni. “It’s extremely special, thanks to the virtual festival, to also share the film with audiences back home in Australia and around the world, who are stuck in lockdown”.
SHORT FILM BY ACTRESS AND FILMMAKER JESSICA DAMOUNI, “BE GOOD”, A RAW, HONEST LOOK AT THE ISOLATING NATURE OF EATING DISORDERS, TO PREMIERE AT THE 2021 URBANWORLD FILM FESTIVAL.
The Short That Was Inspired by The Filmmaker’s Personal Experience Joins Distinguished Films in The 5 Day Hybrid Festival.
The world premiere of Jessica Damouni’s first short film, Be Good, will take place at The Urbanworld Film Festival on October 1st. The film follows a young woman (played by Damouni) wrestling with her eating disorder as she attempts to get ready for her estranged friend’s birthday party. The film was made during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown in Los Angeles with a crew consisting of only Jessica and her partner Montgomery Mauro.
The Oscar Qualifying Urbanworld Film Festival, founded in 1997 by Stacy Spikes, is one of the largest internationally competitive festivals of its kind. Each year, it curates a slate of films representing the broadest lens of diversity across stories, characters, themes, and cultures.
Drawing on her personal experience, Jessica uses raw and honest filmmaking to tell new stories about mental health through the lens of a woman of color. “As an Arab actress I’ve felt there was a lack for more nuanced roles...representation matters. As someone in recovery from an eating disorder, I know how powerful it is to see my story reflected on screen. It is what helps me feel less alone and perhaps more inclined to seek help.” While the film shows the dark side of diet and fitness culture, Jessica manages to weave in aspects of comedy throughout. “Humor has been integral to my own recovery”.
Due to the state of the world, the festival is holding its first ever hybrid festival of both virtual and in-person screenings and continues to provide a point of intersection where creators and audiences meet to experience bold and diverse artistic works. Be Good, will premiere online Friday, October 1, 2021 at 10am ET on the day of premiere and remain online for 48 hours.
For more information on how to purchase tickets for Be Good, please visit:
OVER 30 MILLION MEN AND WOMEN IN THE US ALONE ARE SUFFERING FROM A CLINICALLY SIGNIFICANT EATING DISORDER
A Few Numbers on Eating Disorders, Mental Illness and Addiction:
In the US, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder or EDNOS
Every 62 minutes at least one person dies as a direct result from an eating disorder
Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness
81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being ‘fat’
Over one half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviours such as skipping meals, feasting, smoking cigarettes (as a means of diet), vomiting and taking laxatives.
13% of women over 50 engage in eating disorder behaviors.
1 out of 20 Americans over the age of 12 struggle with depression (CDC)
40 million adults age 18 and older suffer from anxiety disorder in the US (18% of the population)
18% of Americans over the age of 18 struggle with some form of mental illness -- and this doesn’t take into account the millions that suffer in silence (Nationals Mental Health Institute)
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 21.5 million American adults (aged 12 and older) battled a substance use disorder in 2014.
IF YOU OR ANYONE YOU KNOW IS SUFFERING FROM AN EATING DISORDER, YOU ARE NOT ALONE,
HELP IS AVAILABLE:
NATIONAL EATING DISORDER ASSOCIATION:
NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION HOTLINE: