Finitzo’s first feature screens at Siskel Sept. 17

September being National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, it is fitting that writer/director Maria Finitzo’s first narrative feature, about the toll of suicide on a family, premieres in Chicago Sept. 17 at the Gene Siskel Film Center.

Those Left Behind” is the story of an estranged family finally finding the courage to face the grief over the suicide of their 16-year son and brother, with his father and sister blaming themselves for his death, and finally coming to terms with their grief 25 years later.

The idea of the film came about after Finitzo had been hired by a non-profit organization to do some initial research for a documentary about the growing “silent epidemic” of teenage suicide, which claims approximately 100-plus young lives each week.

“When someone ends their life, their grief is unimaginable,” says Finitzo.

“Artistically I wanted to explore what happens after the worst thing happen. I hope my film will be the catalyst to drive conversations around the impact that suicide has on those left behind, as well as conversations about dealing with grief.”

Produced by Lije Sarki of LA, filming took place entirely in Los Angeles in January, 2015. DP was Raquel Fernandez Nunez and editing by Stewart Reeves of bicoastal Work Editorial.

It stars Michael Hogan as the father; Debra Mooney the mother; Daphne Zuinga the sister and Jack Griffo as their son and brother.

Currently on the festival route, “Those Left Behind” played at the Los Angeles Dances with Films Festival. At Savannah’s Big River Film Festival, Finitzo was named Best Female Filmmaker and the Hoboken Film Daphne Zuniga and Jack Griffo were nominated for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor in a feature, respectively.

Non-theatrical distributor will be LA-based Random Media.

At 164 N. State, 8:15 p.m. with Finitzo in attendance for a post-screening discussion. Tickets are $11 general admission and may be purchased here.