Download our film flyer, with updated listings, special guests and all the winners from our International Film Competition.
If ‘cinema is truth 24 times a second’, then this year’s film programme offers literally millions of valuable frames. However, every title is more than just a collection of worthy moments. The expertly crafted work being presented engages, entertains and provokes as it unfolds, revealing insights into mental health that are meaningful, original and authentic.
Once again, the festival has been entrusted with a number of premieres. #MyEscape, in which refugees from Afghanistan, Eritrea and Syria document their own perilous journeys, screens in Scotland for the first time, as does David, a gut-wrenching drama about a troubled young man dangerously asserting his independence. Also making its Scottish début is A Family Affair, the disquieting story of a remarkable 95-year-old woman, who is trying to reconnect with her estranged family in unexpected ways.
There are UK premieres for Shoulder the Lion, an adventurous and visually arresting documentary about three artists moving forward after losing a significant aspect of their creativity; Mind/Game: The Unquiet Journey of Chamique Holdsclaw, the story of a basketball superstar’s uphill battle against the stigma of mental illness; and Me a Belgian, My Mother a Ghanaian, a moving testimony to the immense impact felt when leaving family members behind.
Making its European entrance, Dan and Margot sees a brave young woman explore the influence schizophrenia has had on her life. Another film never previously shown at a European festival is Touched with Fire, which stars Katie Holmes and Luke Kirby as two poets with bipolar disorder, who meet in a psychiatric hospital and begin a tumultuous romance that continues after their release.
Scottish documentaries visiting us on their successful UK tours include Battle Mountain: Graeme Obree’s Story, the inspiring account of the renowned cyclist and mental health advocate’s latest world record attempt, and Seven Songs for a Long Life, which shows the power of song to uplift the spirits of hospice patients. And a live score screening of the 1930s avant-garde drama Borderline is one of our most daring and highly anticipated film events.
Nearly all of the films showcased were first brought to the festival’s attention through our rapidly growing International Film Competition. We received 1,600 submissions—a 300% increase on 2015’s figure—from over 100 countries. And a decade after the festival began as a weekend of film screenings, the International Film Competition Awards Ceremony returns to Glasgow for the first time in years. The Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA) will not only host that stellar event on Tuesday 11 October, but will screen award-winning films and special presentations over the rest of the week, including two full days at the weekend.
As always, vibrant post-screening discussions will conclude most of our film events. And not just in Edinburgh and Glasgow, but all over Scotland, local groups will bring their own flavour and flair to events that they’ve programmed. This year, we’re also very pleased to be premiering films alongside three other well-regarded festivals. We join Luminate to bring you A Family Affair, #MyEscape is a co-presentation with Take One Action, and we partner with Africa in Motion to screen Me a Belgian, My Mother a Ghanaian.
Over time, SMHAFF has developed a reputation for bringing titles to Scotland that might not otherwise have been shown here; films we believe have an important role to play in combatting mental health stigma. Although the 2016 programme contains a wide variety of approaches and subject matter, there is one thing that all the films have in common—they will stay with you long after you leave the cinema.