The Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival has held its annual International Film Awards since 2007. The ceremony takes place during May at CCA: Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow. 

Submissions for SMHAF 2022 are now OPEN. If you would like to submit a film to the festival, please visit our FilmFreeway page. If you have any questions about the submissions process or would like to discuss your film with us, please email Rob at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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The films honoured over the years explore mental health, and the various ways this term can be understood and reflected, encouraging innovative and diverse perspectives. Previous award winners including 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). 

2021 Winners

ANIMATION

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.

ANTI-STIGMA

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.

COMMUNITY

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.

EXPERIMENTAL 

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.

FEATURE DOCUMENTARY 

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.

HUMAN RIGHTS 

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.

MID-LENGTH DOCUMENTARY & GRAND JURY PRIZE 

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.

PERSONAL NARRATIVE 

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.

SHORT DOCUMENTARY 

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.

SHORT DRAMA

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

ANIMATION

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.

COMMUNITY & GRAND JURY PRIZE

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.

FEATURE DOCUMENTARY

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.

FEATURE DRAMA 

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.

HUMAN RIGHTS 

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.

PERSONAL NARRATIVE 

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.

PERSPECTIVES AWARD

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.

SHORT DOCUMENTARY 

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.

SHORT DRAMA 

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.

VOICES OF EXPERIENCE 

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

ANIMATION

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.

ANTI-STIGMA 

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.

COMMUNITY

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.

EXPERIMENTAL 

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.

FEATURE DOCUMENTARY 

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.

MID-LENGTH DOCUMENTARY 

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.

PERSONAL NARRATIVE & GRAND JURY PRIZE

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.

SHORT DOCUMENTARY 

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.

SHORT DRAMA 

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.

VOICES OF EXPERIENCE 

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

ANIMATION

Maybe It's Me, Dimitris Simou, UK, 6m

COMMUNITY

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

EXPERIMENTAL

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

FEATURE DRAMA & GRAND JURY PRIZE

Horizon, Giancarlo Sanchez, Netherlands, 49m

FEATURE DOCUMENTARY 

Crazy, Lise Zumwalt, USA, 60m

PERSONAL NARRATIVE

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

SHORT DOCUMENTARY 

Rocknrollers, Daan Bol, Netherlands, 24m

SHORT DRAMA 

Being Keegan, Stephanie Zari, UK, 22m

VOICES OF EXPERIENCE

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

YOUTH PERSPECTIVE 

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

 

2017 Award Winners

ANIMATION

The Waves, Oscar Lewis, UK, 5m.

COMMUNITY

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

EXPERIMENTAL

Waterfall, Tom Lock Griffiths, UK, 19m

FEATURE DRAMA & GRAND JURY PRIZE

Summer, 1993, Carla Simón, Spain, 96m

FEATURE DOCUMENTARY 

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

HUMAN RIGHTS

Coping, Edem Dotse, Ghana, 14m

MID-LENGTH DOCUMENTARY 

Vivian, Vivian, Ingrid Kamerling, Netherlands, 54m

SHORT DOCUMENTARY

Hum, Nathan Fagan, Ireland, 19m

SHORT DRAMA 

Y, Gina Wenzel, Germany, 24m

VOICES OF EXPERIENCE

Spike, Ian Tierney, UK, 10m

YOUTH PERSPECTIVE 

OverLove, Lucas Helth Postma, Denmark, 22m

 

2016 Award Winners

ANIMATION

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.

ANTI-STIGMA

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.

EXPERIMENTAL

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.

FEATURE DRAMA

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.

FEATURE DOCUMENTARY 

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.

HUMAN RIGHTS

#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.

SHORT DOCUMENTARY

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.

SHORT DRAMA

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.

VOICES OF EXPERIENCE (SPONSORED BY VOX SCOTLAND)

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.

YOUTH PROJECT 

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

ANTI-STIGMA

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.

DRAMA

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.

ANIMATION

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.

SHORT DOCUMENTARY

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.

FEATURE DOCUMENTARY

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.

EXPERIMENTAL

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?

VOICE OF EXPERIENCE

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.

JURY PRIZE

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.

Born To Be, Tania Cypriano