International Film Awards

Our International Film Awards is a prestigious annual event, celebrating films that explore mental health and the various ways this can be understood and reflected.

Winning filmmakers at the SMHAF International Film Awards 2019.

SMHAF is renowned for championing work by filmmakers with lived experience of mental health problems, exploring how film can challenge stigma and perceptions, and raising awareness about the links between inequalities and mental health.

We honour films that draw attention to personal stories and raise awareness about specific mental health problems, but we also welcome innovative and diverse perspectives on mental health and wellbeing.

Films produced in collaboration with communities affected by mental health problems, and by first-time or aspiring filmmakers are also recognised.

This festival is a rare thing – a seamlessly run event that creates caring, safe and welcoming environments in which filmmakers, mental health professionals and informed, curious or ‘theme-invested’ audiences can experience the thrilling and powerful film storytelling the festival programmes, then relax, discuss and share opinions and views with each other and the festival staff too who passionately believe in the power of film to communicate, heal and inspire, and also work tirelessly to make your festival experience a delightful one. Go!

Tim Mercier, director of 2019 Grand Jury Prize winner model childhood

Previous award winners including Too Rough (Sean Lìonadh, 2021),  Judy Versus Capitalism (Mike Hoolboom, 2020), That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore (Hannah Currie, 2019), Evelyn (Orlando Von Einsiedel, 2018), Irene’s Ghost (Iain Cunningham, 2018), Summer, 1993 (Carla Simón, 2017), Becoming Cary Grant (Mark Kidel, 2017), and A Family Affair (Tom Fassaert, 2015).

2022 Winners


On the Surface, Fan Sissoko, Iceland, 4m

Swimming in the Icelandic sea provides a space for healing for a young black woman as she relives her pregnancy and postnatal depression.


Nice to Meet You All, Guen Murroni, United Kingdom, 11m

Creative documentary in which a survivor of human trafficking living with dissociative identity disorder celebrates her new life and freedom.


A La Folie, Léa Luiz de Oliveira, France, 11m

A single mother whose son has been diagnosed with schizophrenia reflects on what it means to be a mother and a carer.


Prosopagnosia, Steven Fraser, Scotland, 10m

An expressive animated documentary exploring the director’s personal experiences with face-blindness through the contents of a memory box.


I’ll Stand By You, Virginija Vareikyte and Maximilien Dejoie, Lithuania, 72m

Two women, a psychologist and a police officer, embark on a challenging mission to reduce the record suicide numbers in their rural hometown.


Uncle, Michelle Jones, United Kingdom, 13m

Director Michelle Jones tells the story of losing her uncle Kenneth Severin, a young black man who died in police custody while experiencing mental illness.


At the Feet of My Mother, Vincent Sparreboom, Netherlands, 27m

Lucien gains the strength to confront his childhood trauma in this emotional journey through a family constellation therapy workshop.


Too Rough, Sean Lìonadh, Scotland, 15m

After a night of intoxication, a hungover and hysterical Nick wakes up next to his boyfriend Charlie and must conceal him from his own homophobic and dysfunctional family.


Killing Myself Laughing, Maria Viola Craig, Scotland, 11m

Now in her 70s, Margaret recounts her hopeful journey through mental illness, recovery and self-acceptance, aided by the famous clown doctor Patch Adams.

2021 Winners


Grab My Hand: A Letter to My Dad, Camrus Johnson & Pedro Piccinini, USA, 4m

An animated film created to support the director’s father after the loss of his best friend and celebrate the bond that they shared.


Imogen, Lola Young & Matt Shea, UK, 29m

A family grieves, celebrates and reflects on their daughter’s life, whose mental health challenges changed the course of her life and everyone around her.


Mind Yersel, Bonnie MacRae, UK, 4m

A zero-budget short film by 21-year-old Bonnie MacRae, created in response to her hometown of Dundee being labelled as Scotland’s suicide capital.


A Letter to My Mother, Amina Maher, Iran, 19m

A radical and fearless autobiographical examination of the impact of childhood sexual abuse by Iranian queer filmmaker Amina Maher.


Neighbors, Tomislav Zaja, Croatia, 73m

After decades spent isolated in a psychiatric institution, this moving documentary follows a group of people as they readjust to normality.


Judy Versus Capitalism, Mike Hoolboom, Canada, 63m

Lyrical documentary about Canadian activist and radical feminist Judy Rebick and her startling embrace of mental illness as creativity.


Love Bound, Vibe Mogensen, Denmark, 51m

Filmed in an otherwise silent therapy room, this documentary follows five parents in their struggles to support adult children with mental illness.


Is It Me, Christopher T. McGill, UK, 9m

An intimate portrait of a bio drag queen struggling with body dysmorphia as she prepares for a night out in Glasgow.


Harmonic Spectrum, Will Hewitt & Austen McCowan, UK, 17m

An insightful Scottish documentary following autistic musician Sean as he navigates the Covid-19 pandemic and the difficulties of adapting to a new normal.


A Glimpse, Zinnie Harris, UK, 16m

A young mother accidentally opens a window on her past self, at a time when she was struggling with a series of miscarriages.

2020 Winners


My Dad’s Name Was Huw. He Was An Alcoholic Poet., Freddie Griffiths, UK, 7m

An insightful animated documentary short unravelling the state of mind of the director’s late alcoholic father through the poems he left behind.


DELTA 7EVEN, Rosie Baldwin, UK, 45m

A post-punk band made up of adults with learning disabilities discover their resilience, united strength and the power of creativity following the heartbreaking death of one of their mentors.


Born To Be, Tania Cypriano, USA, 92m

A powerful documentary focusing on transgender and non-binary people’s experiences with mental health, stigma and human rights from the perspective of patients of groundbreaking surgeon Dr Jess Ting.


Certified Mail, Hisham Saqr, Egypt, 95m

When her husband is sent to prison following a mistake at work, Hala is left alone to deal with her depression and suicidal thoughts, as well as looking after her baby.


Tangle, Maliheh Gholamzadeh, Iran, 8m

A beautiful animation about people who are forced to leave their homes and loved ones behind in war and the threads that keep them connected.


Home, Jen Randall & Sarah Outen, UK, 91m

A soulful documentary following Sarah Outen as she travels over 20,000 miles by human power alone, taking her to the mental and physical brink.


I’ll Love You Till The End, Bex Singleton, UK, 30m

Through recounting her own experience of her father’s suicide, and capturing revealing interviews with mothers, sisters and brothers, director Bex Singleton opens a window into what happens for those left behind when someone takes their own life.


That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore, Hannah Currie, UK, 12m

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.


Troubles, Jonathan Harden & Bronágh Taggart, Ireland, 11m

When a troubled traditional Irish musician reenters the fold after a long absence, his emotionally stunted friend wants to offer an apology.


The Voices From Inside, Elina Chared, France, 25m

A portrait of Marianne, a woman who fights to live with the voices she hears inside her, while supporting others in her community as they navigate their own journeys with mental health.

2019 Winners


Herman Brown is Feeling Down, Dan Castro, UK, 6m

Anxiety noisily interrupts a simple life in this colourful musical animation, created using digital and traditional techniques.


Evelyn, Orlando Von Einsiedel, UK, 95m

Twelve years after the suicide of his younger brother, a director and his family walk the length of the UK in an attempt to come to terms with their grief.


An Open Door, Aoise Tutty Jackson, Ireland, 15m

A vibrant documentary set in a pioneering community space, which comes alive through music, performance and shared experiences.


On Exile, fragments in search of meaning, Jose Carlos Texeira, USA, 47m

Attentiveness to structure and form creates space for individual voices, as ten people share their stories about living with depression.


Irene’s Ghost, Iain Cunningham, UK, 79m

A son unravels his family’s silence to find out what happened to his mother, who died when he was three but lives on in his imagination.


The Song and the Sorrow, Millefiore Clarkes, Canada, 44m

A folk singer prepares to pay tribute to her legendary father, who took his own life after a long-term struggle with depression.


Model Childhood, Tim Mercier, UK, 19m

An autobiographical, partly animated, documentary about a filmmaker striving for a better future as a survivor of childhood sexual trauma.


We Are All Here, Hannah Currie, UK, 23m

A hip-hop community comes together to talk about their issues and challenge stigma after the suicide of a much-loved rapper.


I Love You, Victoria Thompson, Australia, 16m

Improvised drama filmed with a real life couple, exploring the impact that mental instability can have on a relationship.


Asylum, Jefta Varwijk and Jaap Van Heusden, Netherlands, 23m

Poetic and revealing documentary in which a man recounts his experiences with psychosis as he prepares to leave a psychiatric hospital.

2018 Award Winners


Maybe It’s Me, Dimitris Simou, UK, 6m


Riding Through the Dark, Katrina Brown, UK, 17m


below the neck, above the knees, Desiree Dawn Kapler, USA, 12m


Horizon, Giancarlo Sanchez, Netherlands, 49m


Crazy, Lise Zumwalt, USA, 60m


Sanctioned, Dominique Murphy – de Neef, UK, 10m


Rocknrollers, Daan Bol, Netherlands, 24m


Being Keegan, Stephanie Zari, UK, 22m


Lou Bëth Xayma, Piniang, Abdoulaye Armin Kane and Sébastien Demeffe, Belgium, 14m


But Honey, You Look Fine, Jenn Leonforte, Australia, 10m

2017 Award Winners


The Waves, Oscar Lewis, UK, 5m.


Gambling With Minds, Genevieve Clay-Smith, Australia, 10m


Waterfall, Tom Lock Griffiths, UK, 19m


Summer, 1993, Carla Simón, Spain, 96m


Becoming Cary Grant, Mark Kidel, France, UK, USA, 95m


Coping, Edem Dotse, Ghana, 14m


Vivian, Vivian, Ingrid Kamerling, Netherlands, 54m


Hum, Nathan Fagan, Ireland, 19m


Y, Gina Wenzel, Germany, 24m


Spike, Ian Tierney, UK, 10m


OverLove, Lucas Helth Postma, Denmark, 22m

2016 Award Winners


Lima, Afshin Roshanbahkt & Vahid Jafari, Iran, 2016, 15m

A gorgeous stop motion short about a son’s struggle to keep the memory of his father alive, with an evocative score by Icelandic composer Stein Thor.


TRANSition, Robert Cunningham, Ireland, 2016, 16m

A brave and honest documentary about a young transgender man from Ireland and his on-going struggle with dysphoria.


Shoulder The Lion, Erinnisse Rebisz & Patryk Rebisz, USA, France, Ireland, Poland, 2015

An innovative and visually arresting documentary following three people who lost everything and used the power of art to reinvent their futures.


David, Jan Těšitel, Czech Republic, 2015, 78m

A stunning debut about a troubled young man who leaves the suffocating security of his family in a precarious search for independence, with a remarkable break-through performance by Patrik Holubar.


A Family Affair, Tom Fassaert, Netherlands, Denmark, 2015, 111m

Riveting yet tender, a masterful exposure of disquieting secrets as the director confronts his 95-year-old grandmother with her actions and how they caused the family to unravel.


#MYESCAPE, Elke Sasse, Germany, 2016, 90m

A gripping documentary using footage shot by refugees on their mobile phones intercut with interviews that connect the outer journeys they went on with the ones that took place within.


One Foot In Reality, Ramtin Nikzad, USA, 2016, 11m

A woman’s unflinching account of the devastating effects sexual abuse and schizophrenia have had on her life as a young girl and a mother.


crISIS, Ali Kareem Obaid, Iraq, Italy, 2015, 10m

A searing account of a man who is burdened by grief and post-traumatic stress after losing his wife to a suicide bomb in Baghdad.


I Wish I Was That Bird, Jeffrey Krolick, USA, 2015, 50m

A candid portrait of outsider artist James Condos, filmed over a period of three years, following him as he opens up about childhood trauma and seeks to find his place in the community.


Talk It Out, St. Paul’s High School (Glasgow), Into Film, UK, 2015

A heart-warming drama written and directed by Glasgow students about challenging mental health stigma among their school peers.

2015 Award Winners


WINNER: Dancing With Maria, Ivan Gergolet, Argentina, Italy, Slovenia, 2014

Elderly Argentinian dancer Maria Fux has taught her method throughout her life, inspired by her inner rhythms and innate connection with music.


WINNER: Akar (Troubled Waters), Toufic Kreich, Lebanon, 2013

After, twenty-seven years of absence, Eskandar comes home. Once in Beirut, he is haunted by his childhood memories between past and present.

HIGHLY COMMENDED: El día que encontraron a mamá perdida entre los árboles (The Day They Found Mum Lost Among the Trees), Juanjo Rueda, Spain, 2015

The story would end up with my mother surviving wildly, hunting rabbits and fishing with branches.


WINNER: Heart of Dust, Louise Keay Bell, United Kingdom, 2015

In an abandoned and decaying asylum, a former psychiatric patient recalls his memories and tries to set himself free. Based on true patients’ stories and using photos from real abandoned asylums.


WINNER: Un cuento de amor, locura y muerte (A Tale of Love, Madness and Death), Mijael Bustos, Chile, Germany, 2015

Carlos, the uncle of director Mijael Bustos, is schizophrenic. Although an adult – middle-aged, in fact – he still lives with his elderly parents, who have always refused to place their son in an institution.


WINNER: The Closer We Get, Karen Guthrie, United Kingdom, 2015

In this exquisite autobiographical documentary, Scottish filmmaker Karen Guthrie returns to her family home when her mother Ann suffers a devastating stroke.

HIGHLY COMMENDED: El silencio de las moscas (The Silence of the Flies), Eliezar Arias, 2013

Since the 1990s, a mysterious suicide epidemic has been spreading in rural communities across the Venezuelan Andes. This poignant documentary presents an idyllic landscape, permeated with stillness and violence.

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Ida’s Diary, August B. Hanssen, Norway, Finland, United Kingdom, 2014

Ida is a young Norwegian woman, struggling with an emotionally turbulent life. Using footage from her own video diary shot over the last eight years, the film is about hope and courage, finding your own identity and daring to live.


WINNER: Mamma är gud (Mother Is God), Maria Bäck, Denmark, 2013

You want me to dance? I ask. Yes, my mum answers. So, where do you want me to dance?


WINNER: The First Hit, Joseph Malone, UK, 2014

Documentary about drug addiction in Liverpool, focusing on the lives of three men, now recovered, highlighting their backgrounds to substance misuse.

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Submerged, Johanna Wagner, UK, 2011

A short documentary providing an experiential insight into life with borderline personality disorder using voices, stop motion animation and other techniques to convey real life experiences.


Dead When I Got Here, Mark Aitken, UK, 2015

After coming close to death in the Mexican desert, Josué was rescued and placed in a mental asylum run by its own patients. Six years later, while making this film, he gets an unexpected opportunity to become reunited with his estranged daughter and repair his shattered past.

2014 Award Winners


WINNER: Piros Fehér Zöld (Red White Green), Tareck Raffoul, Hungary, 2013

A short documentary about a mother’s struggle, wanting to find a better place for her 37 year old son with down syndrome, before it’s too late.

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Red Dust, Ilona Kacieja, United Kingdom, 2013

Red Dust is a creative, yet hard-hitting, journalistic style, environmental rights, documentary film. It tells the story of Ravenscraig Steelworks, North Lanarkshire, Scotland, in terms of pollution related illnesses, suffered and still being suffered by former workers, residents, and their children.


WINNER: Today is Monday, Owen Davies, United Kingdom, 2013

A short documentary that reflects the lives of patients, carers and staff on an acute medical and mental health unit at a UK General Hospital.

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Tell Tale Signs, Sitar Rose, United Kingdom, 2014

Five parent survivors in Scotland share intimate reflections about the effects of childhood sexual abuse, the challenges they face in disclosing to professionals and how it shapes their experience as parents and partners.


WINNER: Here One Day, Kathy Leichter, USA, 2012

Here One Day is a visually arresting, emotionally candid film about a woman coping with mental illness, her relationships with her family, and the ripple effects of her suicide on those she loved.

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Les Enfants de Sisyphe (The Children of Sisyphus), Didier Minne, Belgium, 2011

The daily encounters with children with autism or psychosis, over an entire year in a day-care centre. We share in the children’s evolution and regression, experience their moments of joy and grief. When one of the kids leaves the centre to attend school, the caregivers are torn between their pride in his achievements, and their apprehension to let him out.


WINNER: The Hard Dream, Behrouz Bagheri, Iran, 2013

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Lizard Girl, Lynsey Miller, United Kingdom, 2014

Sam, a 10-year-old girl who suffers with Asperger’s Syndrome, overcomes her struggle to make friends through the kindness of another child.


JOINT WINNER: Out Door, Stephen Johnston & Edward Summerton, United Kingdom, 2014

A collaboration between artists Edward Summerton and Stephen Johnston documenting the life of David Ford, a young adult living off the radar in rural Scotland who has experienced a wide range of mental health difficulties resulting in long term unemployment, poverty, social exclusion and isolation, sedation and detention in a psychiatric hospital. The film offers a voice to David Ford, celebrating his use of painting, writing and acting as a mechanism for understanding and managing his situation.

JOINT WINNER: Images of Bedlam, Gareth Rubin, United Kingdom, 2013

A short film exploring how art helps residents of the world’s oldest psychiatric institution to cope with their problems.


WINNER: Sea Front, Claire Lamond, United Kingdom, 2014

When you put a shell to your ear, what do you hear? Connected by the sea between them, soldiers, friends, musicians fighting in the trenches in WWI reach out to those battling back home.

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Unravelling Eve, Joan Molloy, 2014

This conceptual documentary by Joan Molloy features nine women’s individual experience with postpartum psychosis.

2013 Award Winners


WINNER: Pe&Fu, Memoirs of a Heart, Sergio Caro Cadenas, Spain, 2013

Pepe plays it. He asks Fuencisla to look to the side and when she turns plants a kiss on the cheek. Sixty-five years later, Pepe keeps kissing his wife daily, but only one of them remembers that first kiss on the outskirts of Segovia. Pe&Fu, Memoirs of a Heart is the story of an indomitable love.

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Jää (On Ice), Sanna Liljander, Finland, 2013

“Why don’t you just get up from there?” Once in a while you have to shatter the ice and confront the cold dark water underneath.


WINNER: There is a Fault in Reality, Tom Cotton, United Kingdom, 2010

In There is a Fault in Reality, writer, director and psychotherapist Tom Cotton explores the stories of three people – Jon, Peter and Jacqui who have all been diagnosed with schizophrenia.

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Jaywick Escapes, Karen Guthrie, United Kingdom, 2012

Despite being officially Britain’s most deprived place, Jaywick promises a fresh start with sea views at bargain rents, just a stone’s throw from London. This film follows the lives of three Jaywick newcomers, drifters whose reasons to escape here are revealed across a year.


WINNER: Not Without You, Petra Lataster-Czisch and Peter Lataster, Netherlands, 2010

An intimate portrait of an elderly artist couple that has to say goodbye to life and to each other.

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Noise, Dan and Noit Geva, Israel, 2012

A documentary comedy narrated, with a deep sense of self irony, by a mostly hidden antagonist: the wife of a man who suffers from hyper-acoustic sensitivity, a mental condition which makes his life in Tel Aviv – one of the nosiest urban locations on earth – a living hell.


JOINT WINNER: Voices, Bob Owtram, United Kingdom, 2013

Evocative, powerful, beautiful and at times controversial, Voices is a film narrative which takes the audience on an emotional experience through mental distress and on to the recovery journey.

JOINT WINNER: Considering Carol, Carol E Kelly, United Kingdom, 2010

Considering Carol describes Carol’s feelings upon entering and leaving psychiatric hospital, taking the audience on a journey through the treatment she received for her depression and where she finds herself today.


WINNER: Mental: A Family Experience, Chris Tolmie, United Kingdom, 2013

A short documentary about my brother Matthew who suffers from psychosis, capturing the struggles a family can experience if someone they know suffers, but also how it can bond a family together through tackling it.

HIGHLY COMMENDED: 50 Tips On How To Make The World Suck Less, Clare McCormack, United Kingdom, 2013

CREATE Paisley is a youth organization in Paisley, Scotland that attempts to engage with young people to both help develop their life skills and also to express themselves through different art forms. This film was written, produced and directed by their film-making team.


WINNER: I Spy, Chelsea Bulloch, United Kingdom, 2013

Bella lives with her father, who suffers from bipolar disorder. Using her dolls to escape from it all, imagination begins to merge with reality and matters soon spiral out of Bella’s control.

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Denge camê da (The Sound at the Window), Nursel Doğan, Turkey, 2012

Gülizar was forced to move from her small village to the big city. The only language she can speak is her native language, Kurdish. She finds herself up against endless challenges. She can’t even speak with a doctor, one of the most basic rights.