After almost three weeks of events, screenings and performances, one might think there’s not much more the Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival could offer. Yet the short films presented by See Me at the Glasgow Film Theatre proved the festival is ending with just as much quality and energy as it started. The screening introduced the stories of four individuals through four incredibly powerful documentaries, while also touching themes less explored in other events, such as hoarding disorder.

The screenings started with Stu Edwards’ I’m Still Here, in which a sports reporter talked about his social anxiety. His words were matched with sports footage, mostly from a football game and a boxing match. The intensity of the footage and the editing created a particular tension in the audience, mesmerised by what was going on on the screen. Following that, Lucie Rachel’s Let Us Let Go gave a glimpse of the director’s life, presenting an intimate portrayal of her life and romantic relationship, and how both were shaken to the core by her mental health condition. Alice Nelson’s Linda and Ron briefly explored the particular relationship between Ron, who suffers from hoarding disorder and his counsellor and friend Linda. Finally, Lindsay Goodall’s Borderline featured the story of Lynn, who beautifully shared her thoughts and feelings through dance.        

With striking simplicity and sincerity, as well as a significant amount of courage, all the filmmakers and their subjects managed to get across important messages that will hopefully tackle mental health discrimination. The focus of these documentaries, besides the mental health conditions described by each individual, was their passions and interests. Sports, art, dance and aeroplane models all made it easier for the audience to identify with the people talking on the screen, regardless of their own mental health history.

Unlike some events in the SMHAFF programme, these short films could have primarily, but not exclusively, appealed to people who have never experienced any mental health disorders – their true strength resided in how something unfamiliar and unsettling was turned into something intrinsically humane and universally comprehensible and acceptable. 

by Ludovica Credendino


Click here to find out more about this joint project from See Me and Glasgow Film to produce short films that change the way people think about mental health, and read this piece on See Me’s website about Lindsay Goodall’s Borderline and dancer Lynn Shaw.