Inspired by true events, THE YEAR BETWEEN is the story of Clemence Miller (played by writer-director Alex Heller), a college sophomore who is forced to move back home after having a mental breakdown. Faced with a surprising diagnosis of bipolar disorder and a jarring return to the Illinois suburbs, Clemence has to learn how to live with her well-meaning but frustrated family and find balance in a world that seems hellbent on thwarting her.

Funny, warm-hearted, fresh, and biting, THE YEAR BETWEEN marks an impressive debut by writer/director/star Alex Heller. Based on her own mental health struggles, Heller has crafted a poignant, powerful and entertaining story of an individual and a family managing the sweet highs and raw lows of adjusting to a new normal.


When I was 19, I lost my shit, left my freshman year of college, and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Upon arriving back home in the southwest Chicago suburbs, I was immediately thrown into trying out different medications, weathering their side effects, and learning how to mend relationships with the people around me. I started to become aware of the chaos that I had caused in my life and embarked on a journey to fix it.

Coincidentally, soon after my breakdown, one of my very good friends had one of her own and began learning how to get her life “on track.” She spent a full year in our hometown, navigating depression and her mom’s fight with breast cancer. Her efforts, as well as my own, and many other
people I’ve met throughout the years, inspired THE YEAR BETWEEN.

During my senior year of college, I wrote this film as a class project and it has continued to evolve ever since. This was my first venture into turning my pain, resentment, and vulnerability into art, and as the years went by, I kept rewriting the script over and over. Every character in this movie is based on someone who has entered my life and made a significant impact on the evolution of my mental health.

It has always been important to me to tell a story about mental illness that contains levity and humor, because laughing through the darkest times has gotten me through them. I’ve spent my twenties developing and refining an intricate “year between,” in order to gently de-stigmatize and
bombastically entertain.

What do I hope people will take away from Clemence’s story? Compassion for the families. Some insight into possible ways of treating this mental illness. An understanding that there are endless paths for everyone. And certainly, a good fucking time.

—Alex Heller


Since 1979, NAMI Chicago has fought for families and individuals impacted by mental health conditions. We promote community wellness, break down barriers to mental health care and provide support and expertise for families, professionals and individuals in Chicago and beyond.

Mental health affects everyone, no matter who they are or where they are from. That's why NAMI Chicago is committed to showing up for everyone in our community—whether it’s Chicago’s first responders, students and school staff, a person on the other end of the phone, or in the community, meeting individuals where they are. NAMI Chicago knows that we heal on a community level.

At NAMI Chicago, we have the courage to believe that healing is possible. We work tirelessly, seven days a week to create a world that prioritizes mental wellness, and to bridge people into the care and support they deserve to live thriving lives of recovery.

THE YEAR BETWEEN has partnered with NAMI Chicago to create resources and dialogue about the use of storytelling as a tool for healing. NAMI Chicago will help steer the film’s education and impact distribution, with the goal of inspiring stories of healing.

"Alex Heller beautifully honors a balance between the humor and pain of mental illness in her film THE YEAR BETWEEN. We are excited to explore the honest conversations and community building for those who live and love people living with mental illness that the film will create, and so proud to partner with THE YEAR BETWEEN in propagating that dialogue."
—Alexa James, CEO of NAMI Chicago

Experience the impact partnership between NAMI Chicago and THE YEAR BETWEEN by visiting the More To Talk About section of this site. You'll find a variety of resources and tools for mental health, including an insightful conversation featuring Alex Heller, Alexa James, CEO of NAMI Chicago, Level Forward Executive Producer, HaJ, and More To Talk About host, Andrea Ambam.

FULL SPECTRUM FEATURES NFP is a Chicago-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to driving equity in the independent film industry by producing, exhibiting, and supporting the work of women, BIPOC, and LGBTQ+ filmmakers. FSF aims to educate the public about important social and cultural issues, utilizing the power of cinema to foster understanding in our communities.

LEVEL FORWARD is a story-driven / impact-minded film, theater, and television mini-studio comprised of storytellers, entrepreneurs, and social change-makers. With partners, the company is working to make the case that social impact is as much about business and the bottom line as it is about public good. On project and systems levels, Level Forward strives to balance artistic vision, social impact, and stakeholder return and create dual value.