The Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival

Last night the Edinburgh Filmhouse was the venue for the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival (SMHAFF) International Film Award Ceremony for 2013. The SMHAFF started off in 2007 and is now recognised as one of the biggest social justice events in the UK. Last night several different awards were given out to the creators of 12 outstanding films depicting insights into the reality of mental well-being. It’s impossible to mention all the great moments of the ceremony so I will simply cover the highlights.

Watching Jury Prize and Short Documentary award winner “Pe&Fu ,Memories of a Heart” had to be one of the most tearful parts of the night. The short film was about Jose and his wife Fuencisla, who suffers from alzheimer’s, and the love and devotion he showed for her throughout their 65 years together and her illness. He cared for her everyday with little assistance and in the film talks about the cruelty that is alzheimers. The film is heart warming but also realistic in depicting how hard it is for the loved ones of alzheimers patients to care for them.

Another film that I liked was “I Spy”, which won the best drama award. The clip we saw of “I Spy” was of a young girl playing with her doll. The whole way through the clip the girl says “I spy with my little eye something beginning with B” as she re-enacts life with her father using her doll. It is not until the end of the clip that we find out that all of their possessions have been repossessed including all of the young girls toys and that B stood for bipolar disorder, which her father suffered from.

There was a number of fantastic messages throughout the ceremony but one of the key ones in my eyes was the message that the goal is not to cure or be cured of mental illness but to be able to integrate fully into society. This message was made clear by the mid-length documentary award winner “There is a Fault in Reality”. In this documentary one of the people interviewed talked about one of the perks of having schizophrenia was that you could never really get lonely. I saw this as a wonderfully uplifting way to look at mental illness and could really make the prospect of mental illness far less daunting.

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