Isabelle Goldie introduces this year's slate. Photo: Russell Gray Sneddon
The 2014 Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival was launched today in Glasgow's City Chambers. Themed around power and mental health, it is aiming to get back to its roots, and it will involve 300 events held in diverse venues all around the country. Films on this year's slate include hard-hitting Edinburgh documentary Everybody's Child and thoughtful American odyssey Stand Clear Of The Closing Doors.
Guests at the launch. Photo: Russell Gray Sneddon
At a packed reception, guests were treated to a screening of Sea Front, part of the festival's busy shots programme, followed by a short set from local musician Shambles Miller. Festival Chair Isabelle Goldie spoke passionately about the theme. "Having the power to determine our destiny is absolutely vital for our mental health while disempowerment erodes our sense of self. Sadly, power is not equally shared; stigma and discrimination mean that the reality for many people with mental health problems is one of exclusion and unfair treatment. People adopt creative means to explore the complexities of these issues, from personal expressions of power through visual arts and film, to songs of protest and political theatre. It is therefore fitting that we are turning to the issue of power this year to consider what power means to us and our mental health and to ask what we can do to ensure people who experience mental health problems are valued and have a voice."
"Stigma and discrimination affect too many people in Scotland with mental health problems," said See Me programme director Judith Robertson. "The Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival have strived for the last seven years to break down this stigma and challenge people’s beliefs about mental illness with vibrant and exciting events."
Alongside the films, there will be literary events, with the lunch of a new International Wriers' Award for those using words to challenge the way mental health issues are perceived or to work through their own difficulties, plus a reading of war poetry in Edinburgh to remember those First Worl War soldiers traumatised by their experiences. There will be live musical events spanning genres from blues, to pop, to protest songs. There will be theatrical tours and there will be three major art exhibitions, by Caps Advocy, Moyna Flanigan and Frances Douglas, the latter of whom has drawn on work done with Cornton Vale prison inmates with poet Evlynn Sharp.
We'll be bringing you coverage of the festival once screenings begin on 1 October. You can see our early coverage here.