Festival of Madness on Film

Festival of Madness on Film

4th - 17th October 2012

Film is a window into the lives of others – a window through which we can see fundamental parts of human experience. In the lead up to mental health awareness week, The Film Archive opens a Festival of Madness on Film to celebrate and honour the struggles many have in this misunderstood, often misrepresented and stigmatised aspect of human health.

Festival co-directors Mark Sweeney and Arana Pearson have launched this inaugural programme to investigate, examine and challenge attitudes towards mental health through film. Mark Sweeney has spent 12 years in the film and television industry in a variety of production roles, and is now the Archive’s manager of presentation, involved in public programming to connect New Zealander’s with their moving image heritage. Arana Pearson is an educator, musician and writer who became involved in the mental health service sector some years after his own experience of using mental health services in New Zealand. He is the director and principal trainer for Keepwell Ltd and specializes in delivering experiential learning and recovery-based training to the mental health sector throughout Australasia.

Arana Pearson states that he hopes the Festival of Madness on Film will help to “Humanize mental illness through film presentation – sharing the broad ways in which film makers represent images of mental illness.”

“Cinema and television play a huge part in shaping how we see the world. This festival is an opportunity to concentrate and refocus that view.” says Mark Sweeney.

“We want to use film to open the door on the whole ‘mental health issue’ . Often we are too scared ourselves to open the door alone... so why not use film as a tool for truthful open discussion and deeper conversation?” say Mark and Arana.

The two week programme includes a broad range of representation, from the world premiere of Mad Pride: a thought-provoking and entertaining depiction of the work of a group of Wellington Mad Pride activists; to American documentary Crooked Beauty: a truly cinematic and philosophical experience that takes the viewer on a journey through the space between trauma, madness, and brilliance. Much loved New Zealand classic An Angel At My Table and acclaimed documentary Mental Notes: a film that has raised much awareness of the human rights injustices of the asylum days, will also feature. Sticks and Stones, a documentary in which notable Kiwis, including John Kirwan and Mike Chunn, reveal how their lives have been affected by mental illness, will mark World Mental Health day on Wednesday 10 October. A panel discussion will examine processes when dealing with Mental Health themes in film making; and to close the festival Mark Sweeney will present a Talk/Show looking at the representation of mental illness in New Zealand cinema and television.

“Together we wanted to create a programme which would value difference and celebrate diversity, adding to the understanding of other people – as in doing so we increase understanding of ourselves. These screenings have been programmed to move and challenge you, to provoke discussion and conversation.”

Full programme details are on the events calendar
For more information, please contact Nic Marshall on 64 4 384 7647 ext 823 or nicmarshall@nzfa.org.nz