The Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival this evening announced the winner of the 2016 Grand Jury Prize at the festival’s International Film Competition, at a ceremony at the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow.
The prize, awarded by a jury of film and mental health professionals, was won by A Family Affair, a stunning and very personal documentary made by Dutch director Tom Fassaert. When Fassaert’s 95-year-old grandmother invited him to visit her in South Africa, all he knew about her were his father’s stories of the 1950s femme fatale who put her two sons in a children’s home. Riveting yet tender, the film is a masterful exposure of disquieting secrets as the director confronts his grandmother with her actions and how they caused the family to unravel. An unexpected confession makes things more complicated than he could have ever imagined. The film is presented at SMHAFF in association with Luminate, and will be distributed across all Netflix regions (excluding The Netherlands) in 2017.
Richard Warden, film curator at SMHAFF, said: “A Family Affair is not only among the best films exploring mental health that I’ve come across, but it’s also one of most accomplished documentaries I’ve ever seen. Having watched it a few times now, I find that I’m increasingly absorbed with each viewing. This is a rare feat for any film. It was no surprise that this year’s International Film Competition jury awarded its biggest prize to director Tom Fassaert’s remarkable achievement. They saw in it an intensely personal story told with verve and veracity; one that examines multiple legacies of childhood trauma in a challenging, thought-provoking and yet deeply sensitive manner. The jury members felt that it would inevitably encourage family discussions with valuable outcomes, however difficult those conversations might be. I’m delighted that the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival is honouring A Family Affair, and screening the documentary twice during its 10th edition.”
Tom Fassaert said: “I am extremely honoured: it means so much to me that the film doesn’t only resonate with me but it resonates with, well, in fact, total strangers – with other people who might have similar experiences or similar stories. I can’t wait to come out to Scotland to talk about it, to exchange experiences, to show the film, to have the masterclass.”
A Family Affair has its Scottish Premiere at SMHAFF on Saturday 15th October at the CCA in Glasgow at 7pm. A second screening will take place at Filmhouse in Edinburgh on Tuesday 18 October at 6pm; Tom Fassaert will deliver a masterclass in personal filmmaking at Edinburgh College of Art ahead of this screening. Both screenings will be attended by Fassaert and his father Rob, who features heavily in the film.