This week, we present three short films exploring the Mental Health Awareness Week theme of Kindness, including the winners of the Short Documentary and Short Drama awards at SMHAF 2020.

We will be joined by directors Hannah Currie, Jonathan Harden and James Page for an informal discussion about these films and the theme of Kindness via Zoom at 8.30pm on Thursday 21 May. Please register to receive a link to join the discussion here.

Troubles

Jonathan Harden

When a troubled traditional Irish musician reenters the fold after a long absence, his emotionally stunted friend wants to offer an apology. With outstanding writing and performances, it makes for a uniquely intimate viewing experience.

Winner of the Short Drama award at SMHAF 2020.

Troubles is available to watch for free but if you would like to support SMHAF, you can buy a 'pay what you can' ticket here.

Grace

James Page

An affecting drama from New Zealand, Grace follows a 17-year-old experiencing generalised anxiety and panic disorder, who must find the strength to look for help again elsewhere after a soul-crushing interaction with her GP.

Grace is available to watch for free but if you would like to support SMHAF, you can buy a 'pay what you can' ticket here.

That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore

Hannah Currie

The latest film by BAFTA award winning director Hannah Currie is an emotional documentary exploring whether Lindsay's love for her husband Paul can sustain her through the trauma of his brain injury, which leaves him in a perpetual loop of joke telling.

Winner of the Short Documentary award at SMHAF 2020.

That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore was available to watch from 12pm-midnight on Thursday 21 May. 

Programme Notes

The theme of this year's Mental Health Awareness Week was originally planned to be Sleep. However, in the wake of the lockdown being announced, the decision was made to change it to Kindness, due to its capacity to strengthen relationships, develop community, and deepen solidarity. At a time when we've never been more aware of the vulnerability of our species and the fragility of our social connections, these shorts explore the nature of kindness and its impact.

Winner of the SMHAF 2020 Short Drama Award, Troubles (Jonathan Harden, 2019) is a story of redemption between two old friends set against the backdrop of tensions in Northern Ireland. In his acceptance speech, Jonathan Harden said that the team, "set out to tell a truthful story about male mental health". Written by Bronagh Taggart, Troubles is hopeful yet grounded in reality. Thanks to the restrained, evocative performances of leads Fra Fee and Niall McNamee, Troubles doesn't fall into the trap of queasy sentiment.

Grace (James Page, 2019) follows its teenage protagonist as she questions her faith in ever receiving the help she needs for her anxiety attacks. Vivid animation and a stunning performance from Phoebe-Rey Subritsky convey the ferocity of Grace's attacks. Refreshingly, speculating on the cause of Grace's anxiety is not the focus of the film. Instead, we are encouraged to see that dedicated attention, flexibility and compassion are key to managing anxiety and improving wellbeing.

That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore (Hannah Currie, 2019) explores the nuances of kindness. Paul is compelled to repeat the same jokes over and over again, after a devastating brain injury that leaves him with memory loss. Lindsay, his wife, cares for him along with taking on the responsibilities of their day-to-day life. Hannah Currie, two-time winner of the SMHAF 2020 Short Documentary award, portrays her aunt and uncle's situation with an empathetic curiosity, marvelling at Lindsay's strength and Paul's enduring love for his wife, without losing a sense of their constant struggle.