Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival

The 2015 Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival (SMHAFF) got underway at the end of last week. One of the largest social justice events in the world with over 300 events across Scotland, SMHAFF covers theatre, dance, music, visual arts, film and spoken word, aiming to support the arts and challenge perceptions of mental health.

This year’s film programme involves individuals who are willing to openly explore what mental health means to them, whether they are in front of the camera, behind it or both.

This year much of this important work showcases features female directors, with more than half of the films in the programme directed by women. The Festival has created an opportunity to observe female directors at the forefront of autobiographical and intensely personal filmmaking. Some highlights include:

Ida’s Diary - Ida is a young Norwegian woman struggling with an emotionally turbulent life brought about by Borderline Personality Disorder. Using footage from her own video diary shot over the last eight years, the film is about hope and courage, finding your own identity and daring to live.

Rocks in My Pockets - Latvian director Signe Baumane’s surreal animated feature traces the lives of five women in her family as they embark on a quest for sanity. Raising questions about how far our mental wellbeing and individual identities are shaped by genetics and society, Baumane merges strange metaphors, provocative imagery and personal stories into a rich and daring cinematic vision.

The Closer We Get (Awarded Hot Docs Festival 2015) - In this exquisite autobiographical documentary, Scottish filmmaker Karen Guthrie returns to her family home when her mother Ann suffers a devastating stroke. At the same time, a revelation from her inscrutable father forces her to come to terms with an astonishing secret, giving her one last chance to delve into her family’s past. Presented with tenderness, candour and unexpected humour, this tale of family survival deals with loyalty, dreams and redemption.

Good Girl - Resourceful filmmaker Solveig Melkeraaen is used to succeeding in everything she does. But when she receives a diagnosis of severe depression, she tries everything to return to her old self. Electroconvulsive therapy is the solution and quickly gives Solveig her life back, but the treatment raises questions about what it really means to be herself. This personal documentary explores perfection, control and fear with exuberance and wit.

For more information visit mhfestival.com or get in touch with us smhaff@mentalhealth.org.uk

Read the full programme: Scottish Mental Health Film and Arts Festival


First published: 11 October 2015

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