myCinema Set To Release Mental Health Focused, Festival Award Winning Feature Coming Up For Air on September 20

PHOENIX (September 1)—Coming Up for Air, an award winning feature drama focusing on the impact of mental health on families, is set for national theatrical distribution on September 20 through myCinema. The Robert Cicchini directed film, with breakout performances from acclaimed Milwaukee actress Deborah Staples and Michigan native Chase Yi, is being hailed as a picture that will ignite a national conversation about the significant role caregivers play helping friends, family, and patients recover from mental illness.

“Releasing during National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, Coming Up for Air carries a relevant and timely message,” says Bruce Eisen, myCinema’s Director of Content Strategy and Acquisition. “It is an important film that needs to be seen and talked about. I'm thrilled that myCinema is working with the filmmakers to bring this feature to audiences nationwide.”        

Filmed on location in Michigan and Wisconsin, Coming Up for Air tells the story of ceramic artist Anna Russell and her son Stan, a straight A college student and high diving champion, seeking an spot on the men’s 10m Olympic diving team. The pressure and stress to succeed in his high-stakes athletic competitions, while maintaining his A average and a social life, begin to take their toll. Stan begins to unravel and withdraws into himself with potentially tragic consequences. Coming Up for Air is a breathtaking family drama that highlights the importance of mental health care.  It will take audiences on an all-too-common journey, highlighting the pressures that are put upon teenagers to succeed and on parents to cope.

Best picture winner at the Detroit I See You Awards, the film was also honored for best director, best cast, best lead actess, best lead actor, best editor (Gene M. Gamache), and best cinematographer (Bruce Schermer and David Darling).  The film is also a finalist at the Florence Film Awards.

Director Cicchini, a veteran film (Godfather III), television (Six Feet Under) and stage actor, who previously directed and starred in Roger Rapoport’s award-winning feature Waterwalk, says:
“This very topical new film will inspire empathy and awareness of the complexities of personal responsibility. It addresses how crises that may lead to tragedy can be de-escalated and creates an appreciation of the impact mental health has on families. It will also support community discussions of the real conditions and biases toward mental health treatment.”

The feature was shot on location in Michigan and Wisconsin with a cast featuring acclaimed stage actors from many award-winning midwestern theaters. They include Kate Thomsen, who starred in Rapoport’s previous film Pilot Error, along with Neil Brookshire, April Paul, David Bendena, Carrie Hitchcock, Mark Corkins, Kirk Wahamaki and Judy Johnson.

“This film focuses on one of our nation’s critical concerns,” says Robert Goodrich, head of Goodrich Community Theaters, who worked closely with the production team as executive producer. “It’s already receiving film festival nominations from as far away as Italy.”

“A national release with myCinema means that the timely message at the core of our film will reach audiences everywhere,” says Rapoport who cowrote the original script with Deborah Staples.

“If you or someone you know can benefit from mental health treatment or is having a mental health emergency, take action, lend a hand, make the call to get help, stay on the line, and above all don’t hang up. Your quick action could save a life.”

The film’s trailer is at

The team behind Coming up for Air

About myCinema

NAGRA-KUDELSKI’s ‘myCinema’ solution brings the agility of the internet age to cinemas by providing an unprecedented choice of content (live music, Broadway, e-sports events, opera, ballet, and sporting events, as well as classic and independent films from a variety of genres); reducing the theatre owners CAPEX and OPEX investment. myCinema equally enables independent content creators to reach cinema going audiences in major theater circuits and small-town theaters by putting cinema owners and managers in control of their community's entertainment experience. Learn more at

Director Robert Cicchini

Robert Cicchini is an award-winning actor, director, and acting teacher. He has acted in or directed over 100 stage plays, has acted in over 70 television shows as a guest star or recurring character, and played roles in 40 feature films. He also teaches acting at AMDA College and Conservatory for the Performing Arts, and has directed numerous plays with The New American Theater, Los Angeles. Cicchini directed and starred in the 2012 feature film, Waterwalk, which has played theatrically in over 200 theaters across the US. 

He has been fortunate to work with some of the most important theater, film and television artists of our time. His list of film credits include: Godfather III, Light Sleeper, Primary Colors, The Deep End of the Ocean, Path to War, Mrs. Harris, The Pickle, War of the Worlds, Jungle Fever, Dreamgirls, Mission of the Shark, California Solo, and most recently Pilot Error. The list of directors with whom he has worked include Francis Ford Coppola, Spike Lee, Paul Schraeder, Ulu Grosbard, Bill Condon, Mike Nichols, Paul Mazursky, John Frankenheimer, and Steven Spielberg.

His extensive television credits include: Shameless, Castle, Law and Order, Bones, The Mentalist, NCIS, CSI, The Closer, CSI/NY, Desperate Housewives, The Sopranos, The Practice, Everybody Hates Chris, Cold Case, NYPD Blue, Without a Trace, Frasier, E.R., Twisted, The Gilmore Girls and recurring roles on Six Feet Under, 24, and Murder in the First.

Cicchini is an active participant in the Los Angeles theater scene and performs and directs regularly with The New American Theatre Ensemble (formerly Circus Theatricals), where he is an Associate Artist, teacher, director, actor, and charter member.

With the Los Angeles-based New American Theatre Ensemble. he has appeared in many classic and new plays, including: Tartuffe, Hedda Gabler, The Misanthrope, Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the premieres of a number of plays including: The Job (Garland Award for Outstanding Actor, Backstage Magazine), Man.Gov, Bedfellows, and the world premiere of 63 Trillion.

Cicchini’s wife Jeannine Guido, is director of museum operations at The Broad. They live with their daughter Angelina in Culver City, California.

Deborah Staples (Lead Actress and co-screenwriter)

A Los Angeles native, Deborah Staples moved to the Midwest to pursue a career in the professional theater. She took an acting internship at The Milwaukee Rep, before starting her career in Chicago. Amid a flourishing relationship with Chicago Shakespeare, Deborah jumped at the chance to live her dream of being in an acting company. She relocated to Milwaukee to join The Milwaukee Rep as a Resident Actor, where she has performed 21 seasons and is currently an Associate Artist.

She has performed in well over 100 plays across the country at The Milwaukee Rep, American Players Theatre, Next Act Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Syracuse Stage, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Meadow Brook Theater, Writers’ Theater, Milwaukee Chamber Theater, and Illinois, Wisconsin ,and Iowa Shakespeare Festivals among others. Deborah has enjoyed portraying a wide range of roles, including all the men and women in two different one-woman shows (The Blonde, The Brunette and the Vengeful Redhead, and The Amish Project), and the title roles in Hamlet, Mary Stuart ,Elizabeth Rex, Anna Karenina, Phedre, Mirandoloina, and Anna Christie. Other roles of note are Billie Dawn (Born Yesterday), Nora (A Doll's House), Jean Louise (To Kill A Mockingbird), Amanda (Private Lives), Beatrice (Much Ado About Nothing), Helena (All's Well That Ends Well), Yelena (Uncle Vanya), and Ariel (Tempest), Lady Macbeth (Macbeth), Kate (The Taming of the Shrew), Cressida (Troilus & Cressida), Desdemona & Emilia (Othello), Catherine (Proof), Lyuba Ranevskaya (The Cherry Orchard), Roxane (Cyrano de Bergerac), Gwendolen (The Importance of Being Earnest), Ann (All My Sons), Viola & Olivia (Twelfth Night), Hermione & Perdita (The Winter's Tale), Goneril & Regan (King Lear), Brook and Belinda (Noises Off), and Elmire (Tartuffe).

Staples’ film work includes cameos in Waterwalk and Baraboo, and a featured role in Pilot Error. She is married to David Cecsarini, a Milwaukee director, actor and artistic director of that city’s Next Act theater company. Both their daughters, Miranda and Amalia, are active in the Milwaukee theater scene.

Chase Yi (Lead Actor)

Chase Yi costarred in the feature film Waterwalk. His feature film and television credits include Family Weekend, Love and Honor, The Lake Effect, and Superstore.

He is a recent creative writing honors graduate of the University of California Los Angeles where he won the poetry award. In addition to being a successful film and stage actor, Yi is also an avid singer and guitar player performing regularly in the Los Angeles area. He is cofounder of the Philosopher’s Stone Poetry Company which publishes the Third Eye Poetry and Prose anthology that aims to be an inspiration to the world. 

Philospher’s Stone Poetry Company is proud to serve Los Angeles’s west side where Yi lives. The Kalamazoo, Michigan native made his professional debut on the Farmer’s Alley Stage where he has appeared in Marvin’s Room, and Good People. 

Roger Rapoport (Producer and co-screenwriter)

Producer and co-screenwriter Roger Rapoport (Eclipse Award-winning Waterwalk and Pilot Error) is the Michigan-based author of many books including Angle of Attack; Air France 447 and The Future of Aviation Safety (with Shem Malmquist), Citizen Moore: The Making of An American Iconoclast (Foreward Biography Award), Hillsdale: Greek Tragedy in America’s Heartland, and California Dreaming: The Political Odyssey of Pat and Jerry Brown.

He is also editor of the international bestselling and widely translated I Should Have Stayed Home trouble travel series. A contributing editor at Flight Safety Information, his articles have been published in the Atlantic, Harper’s Esquire, the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, The Independent and many other publications. After working in California for many years, he returned to his native Michigan where he lives with his wife, Martha Ferriby.

A proud father and stepfather, Rapoport thanks audiences around the country for their enthusiastic support of our Heartland-produced films.

Gene M. Gamache (editor)

Over the last 30 years, Gene has worked on campaigns for such movies as Men in Black, Ghost,  Braveheart, Forrest Gump, The Rock, Jurassic Park 3, Marley and Me, The Descendants, Shame, and academy award best picture winners Birdman, Twelve Years A Slave, and The Shape of Water.  He has won seven Key Art Awards from the Hollywood Reporters annual competition for motion picture advertising. He is the editor of Pilot Error.

Gamache’s production company Repertoire Films produced, directed and edited the award-winning documentary film Houdini.  Following the success of Houdini, Gene and Kirk Carter produced and directed the documentary film A Circus Life.

After finishing the documentary film Houdini, Gamache became a magician member of the prestigious Magic Castle in Hollywood California.  Over the last 15 years, Gene has been invited as an inner circle guest at the Official Houdini Séance held annually on October 31st — the anniversary of Houdini’s death. He lives in Burbank, California with the American actress Lindsay McDonald and their two sons.

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact;
Naomi Cooper, Director of Advertising and Promotion            (480) 306-3479,

Roger Rapoport (231) 720-0930