Theo Panagopoulos is working with us as part of the New Promoters Scheme, supported by Film Hub Scotland, to curate three screenings this autumn as part of the SMHAF year-round programme. Before we share news of these events in the coming weeks, Theo introduces his background and why he wanted to get involved with the scheme.

I joined the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival team in August 2021 as part of the New Promoters Scheme and I am responsible for organising and curating three events in late November and early December as part of the year-round programme of the festival.

The New Promoters Scheme is an initiative from Film Hub Scotland that aims to increase the number of marginalised people programming films for cinemas, festivals and venues within Scotland. Each candidate is given the unique opportunity to be part of the Scottish exhibition sector and understand how to programme films for audiences by being part of creating three events for the chosen festival and venue and be part of workshops through Film Hub Scotland.

Personally, I was born and raised in Greece by a Greek father and a Lebanese-Palestinian mother and came to Scotland three years ago to study an MFA in Documentary Film Directing at Edinburgh College of Art. During the programme I directed a short creative documentary film called film “My Own Personal Lebanon” which explores intergenerational trauma within my family and since then I have been developing multiple projects both fiction and documentary that tackle themes of identity, politics, memory and language.

I was very excited to be chosen as part of the New Promoters Scheme and especially the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival as it gives me the opportunity to engage with storytelling and mental health in different ways than ever before. I am especially interested in programming for diverse communities in order to create safe spaces and open discourses about the intersectionality of healing.

In the events I am developing, I am interested in focusing on the theme of healing in the context of past, present and future by experimenting with the idea of a trigger-sensitive programme. Thus, the screenings are curated foremost with the audience’s experience in mind, ensuring it is accessible to people with lived experience of mental ill health. The films I am selecting address mental health through the perspective of identity, belonging and the social structures that encompass our livelihood.

The New Promoters Scheme is supported by Film Hub Scotland, part of the BFI’s Film Audience Network, and funded by Screen Scotland and Lottery funding from the BFI.