Winner 2018

A Dangerous Son

HBO Documentary Films and Moxie Firecracker Films

Filmmaker Liz Garbus’ powerful documentary, A Dangerous Son, focuses on three children with serious mental disorders and the struggles of their parents to manage not only the overwhelming demands of work and everyday life, but also their sons’ unpredictable and often violent behaviors without adequate resources available. The film skillfully captures the interiority of the emotionally resonant mothers, who must cope with outside judgment and angry glares from strangers assuming bad parenting. One mother finds notes from her bipolar son saying he wants to die and hurt others. Another attests to the profoundly tragic but necessary decision of having to sign over her child to the state so he can get care. They search desperately for help, which has become increasingly difficult to find (or afford) since the deinstitutionalization of mental health facilities decades ago. Families wait for months for the few available beds, and help typically ends once insurance money runs out. For its stark, wrenching, and relentlessly honest look at the struggles these parents face, and for urging change in the way we treat parents and the way our mental health system treats their children, A Dangerous Son receives a Peabody Award.


Executive Producers: Sheila Nevins (for HBO). Producer: Nancy Abraham (For HBO). Senior Producer: Liz Garbus. Produced by: Ted Gesing. Directors: Liz Garbus. Editors: Sari Gilman. Cinematography: Gabriel Miller. Sound Music: Paul Brill, Elizabeth Ziman.