We announced the programme for the 11th Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival on Thursday 14th September, at a special launch event at Paisley Town Hall. Supported by Paisley 2021, the launch featured performances from local artists and community groups, including Heir of the Cursed, The Vegan Leather, Buddy Beat and Cotton Street Singers – as we unveiled what’s happening this year, along with our brand new look.

This year’s festival theme is Reclaim – an idea which has inspired a host of theatre, film, music, comedy, visual arts and literary events from artists and community organisations, based in Scotland and around the world. There are over 300 events taking place across the country from 10-29 October 2017.

Highlights include the world premieres of Hysteria! by Julia Taudevin, exploring the impact of sexism on mental health, and One Mississippi by Mariem Omari, a powerful piece of verbatim theatre about men reclaiming their lives following a moment of crisis. Living With The Lights On, RSC actor Mark Lockyer’s acclaimed show about his recovery from a dramatic breakdown, has its Scottish premiere, while SMHAF associate artist Emma Jayne Park presents It’s Not Over Yet, a very personal show about living with a cancer diagnosis, which aims to turn people’s homes into intimate performance spaces.

We announced the winners of our annual International Film Competition at the launch, with Summer 1993, a semi-autobiographical drama about a girl orphaned through AIDS, named Best Feature Drama, and Becoming Cary Grant, a fresh look at one of Hollywood’s greatest icons, named Best Feature Documentary. All the winners will be screened in a packed programme at the CCA in Glasgow, from 12-15 October, alongside further selections, shorts programmes, workshops, discussion events and our not-to-be-missed awards ceremony.

Other notable highlights for 2017 include Out of Sight, Out of Mind, our annual collaborative exhibition featuring an extraordinary variety of artwork by established and community artists, and 5 Ways to Begin…, a scratch night in Edinburgh and Glasgow curated by SMHAF Associate Artist Emma Jayne Park, giving audiences a first look at in-development performance pieces with mental health themes. Flint & Pitch, Jenny Lindsay’s popular spoken word and music night, holds two specially programmed shows in Edinburgh and Paisley with the theme Reclaim This Script. Neu! Reekie! presents a night of words, music and film at Dundee Literary Festival, where we will also host Beyond the Binary, an evening of transgender stories from all over the world featuring members of the Adam World Choir (as seen in the National Theatre of Scotland’s recent hit, Adam).

But these highlights can only ever scratch the surface. The full SMHAF 2017 programme is online today and you can find full nationwide festival listings here on our brand new website. We look forward to seeing you at some of these events this October.