Summary info for schedule – will be hidden on film page
UNSTUCK: an OCD kids movie
Six kids with OCD share how they learned to face their fears, stop their rituals and regain control of their lives.
Screening day / time
Check Back Soon

UNSTUCK: an OCD kids movie

Running Time
Short Film
23 minutes

UNSTUCK: an OCD kids movie

Day after day, six kids from varied walks of life and economic backgrounds weather severe anxiety and feel forced to engage in the complex and time-consuming rituals that OCD “tells” them to do.

Holden worries constantly that he will turn into a bodybuilder if he wears the color green or sees The Hulk on TV. Vanessa is convinced that two trees on her block are poison and she will get contaminated by walking near them. Jake is bullied at school because he must do complicated blinking and walking rituals each time he sees a clock. Sharif insists on rewriting his homework over and over until he feels it’s perfect. Sarah can’t get ready for school because she is compelled to do elaborate morning rituals. Ariel believes her thoughts caused her Aunt to get sick so she reads the Bible for hours each day trying to cure her.

Meanwhile, two siblings share how OCD took over the family. Tatum, Holden’s sister, talks about how his violent outbursts made the family fear he would be taken away. Vanessa’s sister, Charlotte, explains how hard it was when Vanessa was afraid to be near her.

Finally, after much resistance, the kids get to the right therapists. “I thought it was a waste of time,” Sharif says. “How can anybody know more about this than me, when I’m the one dealing with OCD?” One by one they learn to recognize OCD thoughts and slowly begin to confront their fears using a process called Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy. In an intensive inpatient program, therapists work with Sarah to break from her extensive morning and bedtime rituals. Vanessa’s therapist has her stand by the tree, touch dirt near it, and hold onto it. After completing a lengthy list of exposures, Holden is challenged to get a hug from a bodybuilder.

By the end of the film, the kids are significantly better. They still struggle, but have learned how to identify OCD worries and continually practice exposures to stay strong. The self-awareness and resilience of these children sends a strong message to viewers, and provides hope for all those dealing with mental illness.

Filmmaker Notes:

Chris Baier, the film’s producer, and I met in 2014 at a support group for parents of children with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. There were about eight regulars in the group, and we were all experiencing first-hand the devastating affect OCD has on kids and families. We knew other families out there were desperate for information and resources, and that there wasn’t a lot of good media out there about kids with OCD. The TV programs that did exist, which focused on OCD in adults, were sensational in their focus on patients’ anxiety during treatment. I knew I would never feel comfortable showing kids in a way that disempowered them and that they would likely regret at some point in the future.

During the summer of 2015, Chris’ daughter and my daughter attended a week-long OCD summer camp at Mt. Sinai’s Child Behavioral Health and Science Center in New York City. As I drove the girls home from camp, I overheard them having a detailed conversation about their obsessions and compulsions, and how OCD has impacted their lives. A lightbulb went off and I thought, “Why not show these kids for what they truly are: strong, knowledgeable “OCD experts?” I approached Chris about making a film together, and UNSTUCK was born.

Film details
Year(s) screened
  • 2018
More information
Where to Watch
Festival screenings
Screening Day / Time
Check Back Soon
Scroll to Top