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2014 Roundup

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We’d like to create a roadmap of festivals for filmmakers and film lovers alike to watch out for, submit to, and buy tickets for. We’re especially interested in festivals that encourage film submissions surrounding ideas of mental health and recovery, encouraging a similar initiative to our mission – finding power at “the intersection of story-telling and mental health.”

Like many independent films, OC87: The Obsessive Compulsive, Major Depression, Bipolar, Asperger’s Movie was first shared with audiences at film festivals. The documentary is about the lived experience of mental illness and recovery of one of the film’s directors, Bud Clayman. Because our goal was to fight stigma and show that recovery from mental illness is possible, we were determined to have the film screened at both mainstream festivals as well as those festivals focused exclusively about mental health. Both festival audiences were interested in a good story with strong characters and universal themes. Both audiences laughed at the humor in the film, and were taken with the “Lost In Space” section, wherein Good Buddy fights his nemesis, Bad Buddy.

Filming the "Lost In Space" scene for the documentary "OC87"

Filming the “Lost In Space” scene for the documentary “OC87”

However, there was a difference when it came time for the Q&A (Question and Answer) session immediately after each screening. Mainstream audiences were very interested in Buddy’s journey with mental health and filmmaking. The film introduced them to Buddy’s lived experience in common public spaces – on the bus, in the street, at a restaurant. Most comments were about the power of the sequences and how the film had made people imagine (possibly for the first time) what it was like to be in this world struggling with mental health issues. Empathy ensued and people were educated.

"OC87" screening at the 2010 PMHCA Conference

“OC87” screening at the 2010 PMHCA Conference

The response was different, and perhaps more powerful, by audiences that were more familiar with the world of mental health. Attendees from more specialized film festival audiences saw Buddy as a role model, somebody further along in his recovery journey, somebody they could aspire to be like. The same sequences that were news to mainstream audiences (scenes that showed Buddy’s struggles with everyday events) were very familiar to those who struggle with similar challenges. Seeing them artfully portrayed on the screen was empowering, and gave viewers a sense that they were not alone in their struggle. As one of our earliest audience members expressed it, “You gave my story the red carpet treatment!” He felt that even though we were telling Buddy’s story, his experiences were so closely tied to Buddy’s journey, we were telling his story as well.

People share their own recovery journeys with one another after viewing the documentary "OC87"

People share their own recovery journeys with one another after viewing the documentary “OC87”

The festivals create a safe and creative space for people to share their stories and allow new filmmakers a place to show their work and lovers of film a place to watch, discuss and think about important themes surrounding mental health, recovery, growth and change.

This is a working list that will always be part of our site. With your help it will become more full and vibrant. Please send in ideas for other festivals that we may not yet know about, or comments about your experiences at any of the festivals that we do list here.

Stigma is fought by visibility and education. Films are a powerful way to explain, enlighten and encourage people who may not have any experience with mental illness. Discussions after films are also important ways of connecting with people and sharing ideas and information, another way to help people who do know the pain of mental illness feel not so alone in their own recovery journey.

 

rrff

2014 Dates TBD, Las Vegas, Denton, New York, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Delray Beach, Sacramento, and San Francisco // Accepting submissions

REEL Recovery Film Festival is produced by Writers in Treatment and promotes treatment for people suffering from addiction, self-destructive behaviors, or mental illnesses. Included films share stories of recovery in hopes to create awareness, education and inspiration. New screening dates will be added to this post as they are announced.

 

 

raff_newyork

March 6 – 11, 2014, New York, New York // Accepting submissions for 2015

The Reel Abilities Film Festival takes place in a number of locations in the USA. It is the largest festival in the country dedicated to promoting awareness about the experience of living with a disability. Most film screenings are followed by post-screening discussions. Reel Abilities Film Festival looks for films by and about people with disabilities that explore, discuss and celebrate the diversity of our shared human experience.

 

 

raff_philadelphia

March 20 – 27, 2014, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania // Accepting submissions for 2015

The Reel Abilities Film Festival takes place in a number of locations in the USA. It is the largest festival in the country dedicated to promoting awareness about the experience of living with a disability. Most film screenings are followed by post-screening discussions. Reel Abilities Film Festival looks for films by and about people with disabilities that explore, discuss and celebrate the diversity of our shared human experience.

 

 

raff_richmond

March 31 – April 6, 2014, Richmond, Virginia // Accepting submissions for 2015

The Reel Abilities Film Festival takes place in a number of locations in the USA. It is the largest festival in the country dedicated to promoting awareness about the experience of living with a disability. Most film screenings are followed by post-screening discussions. Reel Abilities Film Festival looks for films by and about people with disabilities that explore, discuss and celebrate the diversity of our shared human experience.

 

 

heartsandminds

April 24 – 27, 2014 // Accepting submissions

The Hearts and Minds Film Festival was created around the theme of social consciousness. For it’s 9th annual film festival the creators are looking for projects that inspire civic engagement specifically under the theme of behavioral health. They look for stories that are specific but hold a universal truth and provoke action.

 

 

raff_chicago

April 25 – 29, 2014, Chicago, Illinois // Accepting submissions for 2015

The Reel Abilities Film Festival takes place in a number of locations in the USA. It is the largest festival in the country dedicated to promoting awareness about the experience of living with a disability. Most film screenings are followed by post-screening discussions. Reel Abilities Film Festival looks for films by and about people with disabilities that explore, discuss and celebrate the diversity of our shared human experience.

 

 

shininglight

May 2014, Indianapolis, Indiana // Accepting submissions through February 28, 2014

The Shining Light Film Festival is presented by Awareness of Mental Health for the Performing Arts and encourages anyone to submit their films that bring awareness to mental health and the recovery process. They look for hopeful stories that allow others to feel as though they are not alone.

 

 

nycmentalhealthfilmfest

May 17 – 18, 2014, Brooklyn Heights, New York

NYC Mental Health Film Festival celebrates it’s tenth annual festival this year sponsored by Community Access and NYAPRS. The theme of the festival this year is “Hospitalizations and the Alternatives.” The thought provoking films include Kings Park, A Sister’s Call, Technically Speaking, and Coming Off Pscyh Drugs. The films are followed by a Q&A and free lunch.

 

 

sprout2014

May 31 & June 1, 2014, New York, New York // Accepting submissions through March 1, 2014

The 12th annual Sprout Film Festival is happening Saturday May 31 and Sunday June 1, 2014 at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) Theatre at 333 West 23rd Street in New York City. The festival calls for submissions with people who have disabilities as the subject, and performers who are marginalized in the film and television industries. Film submissions of all lengths are accepted for review before March 1st, 2014.

 

 

ocdc

July 18 – 20, 2014, Los Angeles, California // Accepting submissions

The IOCDF Conference features more than 100 presentations, workshops, and seminars as well as nearly two-dozen support groups and various evening events including films about mental health. The presenters include some of the most experienced and knowledgeable clinicians and researchers in the field, as well as people with OCD and family members sharing their stories about life with OCD.

 

 

smhaff

October 2014, Glasgow, Scottland

The Scottish Mental Health Film Festival includes films in addition to visual art, theater, dance, and music with themes of mental health.

 

 

raff_bayarea

October 15 – 19, 2014, Bay Area, California // Accepting submissions for 2015

The Reel Abilities Film Festival takes place in a number of locations in the USA. It is the largest festival in the country dedicated to promoting awareness about the experience of living with a disability. Most film screenings are followed by post-screening discussions. Reel Abilities Film Festival looks for films by and about people with disabilities that explore, discuss and celebrate the diversity of our shared human experience.

 

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OC87 Recovery Diaries

OC87 Recovery Diaries is an interactive website that features stories of mental health, empowerment and change, created by and for those whose journeys of recovery speak to audiences from all walks of life. This project hopes to touch as many lives as possible and bring light to the lived experiences of recovery from mental illness: what matters, what helps, what’s hard, what might be next? OC87 Recovery Diaries exists to tell stories about how people with mental health challenges have created paths to meaningful lives. We feature stories that inspire and empower, stories that generate discussion and awareness. OC87 Recovery Diaries presents a range of experiences—personal perspectives, recovery innovations, examples of empowerment, strengths and gaps in the mental health system, and efforts to dismantle stigma—all told by people moving through their own recovery journeys.

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  • philip silverberg

    We are a film festival in Montreal centred on changing perspectives on mental illness. ( http://www.acff.ca)
    If you wish, we would like to be added to your list of festivals.
    Philip Silverberg
    Festival Founder

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