What They’re Saying

On the surface, this movie is about Darrell Hammond's incredible courage in facing unspeakable childhood trauma and using the act of speaking the truth as an antidote to the silencing prison of trauma. On a more profound level, this movie is actually about the power of Darrell and Michelle's loving friendship with each other, the safety of which allows this story to be told in such a way that Michelle's camera acts as a loving, healing gaze, unflinching but with the greatest humanity and tenderness, holding Darrell with love and bearing witness to his truth. Many mental health professionals will learn more about listening deeply to another person’s truth with love and compassion through the way this story is told.

- Jacob Ham, PhD, Clinical Psychologist and Director of the Center for Child Trauma and Resilience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai    

Darrell Hammond had the guts to tell his story and expose his searing childhood trauma to the world. Michelle Esrick had the talents and fortitude to craft that story into a stunning documentary, one of the best I’ve ever seen. Cracked Up should be seen by anyone who’s been touched by adverse childhood experiences. That’s all of us.

-Jane Stevens, Founder of ACE’s Connection

"It’s a superb movie that tells it as it is, unflagging. The world desperately needs to see this movie. Almost every day I see more reports of misdiagnoses & psychiatric mismanagement that make me wonder if psychiatry, overall, may be doing more harm than good. You and Darrell have given us hope out of the darkness. Delighted to have played a walk-on role in your wonderful movie. Darrell is amazing - like so many survivors I know he has gone to hell and back many times, and in the process has developed astounding survival strategies.”

- Bessel van der Kolk M.D. Expert in childhood trauma and author of ‘The Body Keeps the Score’

"I was utterly transfixed! It is so powerful, so moving, so true, so so so important! it is such a powerful film about trauma and how lodged memories can destroy our lives and how deeply people need help to unravel these memories rather than be diagnosed with illnesses that end up keeping them drugged and numb. Much love and admiration."

— Eve Ensler, playwright, activist, founder of V-Day

“This is a masterful telling of an important story”

— Ram Dass, spiritual teacher

“Congratulations on an amazing piece of truly incredible filmmaking. It was riveting, deep, surprising, heart wrenching and beautifully realized. A very important and groundbreaking (to me) exploration of a topic too little excavated. And how brave and beautiful of Darrell to let his life and inner self be broken open for all to see. So original and so necessary.

— Bonnie Raitt, blues singer, musician, activist

“Michelle Esrick’s CRACKED UP is a profound and unflinching look at the extraordinary life of Darrell Hammond and the dark legacy of abuse he suffered as a child. It is also excellent filmmaking, delivering a highly emotional story with elegance, care and humor, thus keeping our hearts and minds open to the beauty of human resilience.

— Jamie Redford, filmmaker, "Resilience" and "Paper Tigers"

“Through Darrell Hammond’s courageous and riveting tale of trauma and recovery, Michelle Esrick illuminates the misunderstood tragedy of trauma vividly, sensitively, lovingly in her beautiful filmmaking."

Trudy Goodman PH.D. in psychology, mindfulness teacher and founder of insight L.A.

This is a brilliant documentary, just brilliant! I want Michelle Esrick to make my movie!”

— Jack Kornfield PH.D. in clinical psychology and International mediation teacher, best selling author

 

Audience Reactions 

Check out these testimonials from people who’ve watched the film!

Audience Testimonial:

I found this film such a pleasant surprise and the epitome of resiliency. When watching Darrell in my 30-40s, he brought such laughter and joy to my life. It is moving, inspiring and motivating to watch this story.  This movie was done in the only way to touch people - it is honest, real and brought a spotlight to an astonishing epidemic - childhood trauma. I have been around mental health movements and organizations my whole life, but have never seen childhood trauma portrayed like this and it’s so clear that it is overlooked. Thank you for this film, shedding light on a very hard topic and showing how people living with child trauma can identify it, forgive themselves for a life of self medicating and showing a light at the end of a tunnel.  I appreciate all the work that went into the film and will watch and share with those I love. I will also follow crackedup.com and can’t wait to download the song at the end of the movie once it’s recorded.  

Audience Testimonial:

I work in Columbus with kids from public schools that have special needs. Last night I was invited to a special screening of CRACKED UP.  It was brilliant and ever so poignant. Darrell said that he would of made the movie - just to save one life—— my friend, this movie will save literally hundreds of thousands of lives!! Through his personal story, the movie shows that too many people are misdiagnosed as suffering from mental illness, but in reality their ailment is mental trauma of childhood toxic stress. Darrell spoke from his heart with love and conviction, such deep flammable content that he selflessly shared, so as to save others from unnecessary pain and anguish. After seeing  the movie and hearing Darrell speak- I saw firsthand  the meaning behind the words of Martin Luther King- “Truth crushed to the earth, will rise again”.  The truth this movie brings the world, will prevent needless pain of people becoming crushed. Darrell has rose with this movie to bring hope and love to the world!! The stigma of mental injury was replaced with compassion, support and hope!!  

Audience Testimonial:

The sheer audacity and courage to make this film is a gift to the many people who have experienced their own family trauma, as I have. Thank you Michelle and Darrell very much for sharing such a generous sense of hope with us. This movie increased my desire to move forward and to care for myself, to do the work to forgive myself and heal and let go of this constant pain and suffering. I hope I reach the place Darrell mentioned where I am no longer afraid and ashamed. Thank you Darrell for being willing to 'tag along for others benefit,' you have and I am another one of them. I believe that with this movie, you two have begun a new model and movement of peer support to assist people's real recovery and not just 'treating the smoke, while ignoring the fire,' as Michelle put it. This is a beautiful and important movie. Thank you again for making it and for coming to Columbus to share it with us in person. I was deeply moved and consoled by the movie.

Audience Testimonial:

This film tells a very important story and Darrell bravely exposes his raw vulnerability so that strength and the hope of deep healing can emerge. Michelle’s creativity and soulful wisdom blend unbearable pain and compassion together for the observer to be able to bear witness to our human frailty. Best supporting actor is the deep artistry that flows throughout the film’s entirety. My deepest gratitude to all involved

Audience Testimonial:

An insightful look at how childhood trauma affects your entire life and how to approach healing the mental injuries accrued through those incidents. Sometimes people aren't actually crazy. They are simply trying to protect themselves with tools they developed as a toddler.

Audience Testimonial:

This film gives raw and rare view of the journey of a complex trauma survivor. As a trauma survivor myself, it is truly freeing to be able to see someone put into context for the world to see and understand what it is that we (those impacted by trauma) often experience.

Audience Testimonial:

This film tells a very important story and Darrell bravely exposes his raw vulnerability so that strength and the hope of deep healing can emerge. Michelle’s creativity and soulful wisdom blend unbearable pain and compassion together for the observer to be able to bear witness to our human frailty. Best supporting actor is the deep artistry that flows throughout the film’s entirety. My deepest gratitude to all involved.

Audience Testimonial:

Thank you for your kind and eloquent words following the film. What you and Darrell are attempting to bring light and recognition and education around is astounding. We were humbled to be associated with this year’s event and documentary. 

It was such a pleasure to meet you and hear Darrell speak last night. You both spoke to parts of me I had not allowed myself to recognize in a long time. My New York roots, my alcoholic/drug addicted brother and parts of my ‘childhood’ I thought I put away as a child. It’s amazing how such an impactful and soul searching piece of art and life can find its way into the parts we choose to keep silent and hidden. 

We truly feel honored to be a ‘small part’ of such a large endeavor.  We have complete respect for the work being done, the work that you both do and that, as I hope I articulated, is literally transforming and saving lives. 

Audience Testimonial:

I work in Columbus with kids from public schools that have special needs. Last night I was invited to a special screening of CRACKED UP.  

It was brilliant and ever so poignant. Darrell said that he would of made the movie - just to save one life—— my friend, this movie will save literally hundreds of thousands of lives!! Through his personal story, the movie shows that too many people are misdiagnosed as suffering from mental illness, but in reality their ailment is mental trauma of childhood toxic stress.

Darrell spoke from his heart with love and conviction, such deep flammable content that he selflessly shared, so as to save others from unnecessary pain and anguish.

After seeing  the movie and hearing Darrell speak- I saw firsthand  the meaning behind the words of Martin Luther King- “Truth crushed to the earth, will rise again”.  

Such a mitzva - for the truth this movie brings the world, will prevent needless pain of people becoming crushed. Darrell has rose with this movie to bring hope and love to the world!! A 5 year old child shouldn’t have to sit on a railway track or have to go to school with the fear of guns.   

The stigma of mental injury was replaced with compassion, support and hope!! 

Audience Testimonial:

I found this film such a pleasant surprise and the epitome of resiliency.  When watching Darrell in my 30-40s, he brought such laughter and joy to my life. His gift displayed on SNL stood out and I cannot believe everything he had been through. I realize his extreme experiences brought out his gift but his late start in life, his sheer utter talent and under the personal circumstances is astonishing.  He brought so much joy to those of us experiencing different levels of sadness (I had mild depression) that I find the irony so moving. He helped me laugh and get over things in life, while I had no idea what he had been through and what he was living with. It’s moving, inspiring and motivating to watch this story.  This movie was done in the only way to touch people - it is honest, real and brought a spotlight to an astonishing epidemic - childhood trauma. I have been around mental health movements and organizations my whole life, but have never seen childhood trauma portrayed like this and it’s so clear that it is overlooked. Thank you for this film, shedding light on a very hard topic and showing how people living with child trauma can identify it, forgive themselves for a life of self medicating and showing a light at the end of a tunnel.  I appreciate all the work that went into the film and will watch and share with those I love. I will also follow crackedup.com and can’t wait to download the song at the end of the movie once it’s recorded.  

Audience Testimonial:

As I was thoroughly absorbed by the contents of the film, my reaction to the movie was ‘EYE OPENING’.  I never realized there was a term called mental trauma.  The percentages of people suspected of suffering from this illness is astounding; and I feel that the more we get the awareness out, the quicker we can heal those who need it!  

Audience Testimonial:

First, the movie held my attention the entire time. I never once wondered what time it was or thought about anything other than Darrell’s experience. The story line, the editing, the slow intentional revealing of the events in his life kept me entirely engaged. 

My heart broke hearing about his hand being slammed in doors and I was consumed with sadness when he shared how his mother had stabbed his tongue. I wondered, how does a person recover from such trauma? Where must one go to begin their healing? The movie addressed these questions by showing how resilient and intentional Darrell was in working through the many layers of his emotions. 

On a personal note, I gained new insight of the lifelong impact childhood abuse has. My own journey of healing from divorce has a new dimension. I more wholly  understand the severity of the impact a dysfunctional environment has when it is at the core of childhood. Darrell’s reference to the struggles and failure of his own marriage triggered me to take another look at what I had been dealing with in my own healing and that much of the struggles in my marriage stemmed not from the present but from wounds that had been endured so many years before.   

The movie was inspirational and so incredibly necessary to be shared. I think it allows empathy and connection in a new way. Thank you for all your years of work and to Darrell for being brave enough to share his story with strangers.