“Ruston advances a movement to improve access to treatment and services, to protect patients’ dignity and human rights, and to alter the dialogue about mental illness in rich and poor nations alike.”
‐ Paul Farmer, MD, Chair of the Department of Global Health at Harvard Medical School and Co-founder of Partners In Health
Delaney Ruston is a documentary filmmaker and social change advocate. Through her company, MyDoc Productions, Delaney has made several short films and the award-winning feature documentaries--Unlisted: A Story of Schizophrenia, about her father, Hidden Pictures, about global mental health, and Screenagers about growing up in the digital age. She has been asked to create films for places such as The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Recovery Cafe, and The World Health Organization.
One of the outcomes of having an eclectic (and chaotic) childhood in Berkeley, CA was growing up seeing many documentary films. In high school one of her jobs was working in an art house movie theater and inspired by her time there she worked three years during College for Cornell Cinema.
When she saw personal documentaries by filmmakers (such as Judith Helfand) advocating for social change, she had an ah-ha moment. She realized the potential power of film and when during medical school video cameras became affordable, she bought her first one and started doing man on the street interviews.
While working in the hospital at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) as a medical resident, Delaney began taking filmmaking classes during nights and weekends. At the end of residency, she was given research time and decided to make her first film, If She Knew, which explored withholding bad news at families requests.
Ruston went to a Fellowship in Ethics and Communication at UCSF which included doing a study on film use in medical schools as well as producing new shorts.
While faculty at the University of Washington in Seattle, Ruston was accepted into a National Endowment for The Arts funded filmmaking program. She made a short film about her father that aired on PBS. This lead to the eventual completion of her film, Unlisted, about her dad and launched her ongoing efforts in mental health advocacy.
She moved to India for two years with her family where she completed a Fulbright Scholarship making films about community mental health worker throughout India. During that time she completed Hidden Pictures and worked on advocacy campaigns.
Recently she was Faculty in the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care and Bioethics at Stony Brook Medicine, NY where she was the Filmmaker-in-Residence and taught film and bioethics.