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The Secret Maps Projects (working title) 
A Documentary


The Secret Maps Projects, is a two-part documentary directed by filmmaker and author

Maryann Manelski (Running in High Heels, American Catfight) dealing with grief and bereavement.  The first film tells the story of grief itself through the words of the bereaved and imagery protraying the emotion’s rise and fall, mapping grief’s movement and flow through our lives and showing how grief re-makes the fixed places in those of us it has touched. 

The second film is a study of the bereavement process itself including guiding information on forming support and bereavement groups.

The projects together address the archtypal path and the personal ways people forge their own inner journey through grief (secret maps), building new identities and relationships and philosophies while integrating the past.   


Filmmaker Statement

After my father and sister died and after being a caregiver for so long, I became involved in hospice bereavement groups.  In a group setting, I discovered so many commonalities that I realized there is an archtype of a greiving person and a common inner path that we follow while processing our losses.   The experience is far broader than the Kubler-Ross model and is about how the psyche dismembers and rebuilds our identity or portions of our identity.

Beyond this, there was also an odd phenomena that I observed over the course of a year.  People of all kinds came to bereavement group but only women and the occasional gay man stuck with it.  Straight men would come, usually having lost a father or a wife, stay for a session or two and then drop out.  The appearance of a new man - and the timing of his assured disappearance - became a thing upon which the rest of us could wager.

However, as time went on, with every searching man who found no solace in our group, I was moved by how alone men are in their grief, how they separate themselves, and how wordless and private their experience of loss is. It is as if the first rule of Fight Club, its omerta, is wired into their loss.  What makes their situation more poignant is that most institutional support structures are organized around talk therapy and counseling paradigms.  All that is vastly available is that which cannot touch these men or move them forward.

So, I am attempting to offer in service this pair of films to serve as guideposts for the grieving and to advocate for the continued support of bereavement groups which are provided typically at no charge to the bereaved.


About the Filmmaker

Maryann Manelski (pictured), Producer, Director and Author, lives in New York City.  Her previous works include the feature documentary, Running in High Heels and the book, American Catfight.  She has produced over 500 DVDs including Akira Kurosawa’s Ran, Russian Ark, Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth with Bill Moyers, and Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary On the Ropes.  Previously, Maryann was Head of Post-Production for BMG Video and BMG Independents, the indie film arm of BMG Entertainment.  She ran the East Coast post-production department of the now-defunct WarnerVision Entertainment, a division of Time Warner.  She began her career at the William Morris Agency.   She is a graduate from Tisch School of the Arts at New York University where she received a degree in Film and Television.



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NYWIFT programs, screenings and events are supported, in part, by grants from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts