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Films that
provide an inspiring voice for social justice/ defend human rights/ portray positive contributions/fight stigma/defy stereotypes
#storytellingsaveslives

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Harmoni: Healing Together

Indonesia, Director - Erminia Colucci

As a nation of 270 million, Indonesia is facing the grave task of caring for millions of people living with mental illness. Many have experienced human rights abuses in their lifetime. In communities rich in their traditional and religious values, Indonesian faith-based or traditional healers and mental health professionals work tirelessly to improve mental health care and prevent human rights abuses. In the face of skepticism, can they negotiate their way to achieve successful collaboration instead of being antagonists?

‘Harmoni: Healing Together’ explores these collaborative practices in three islands - Java, where the communities are predominantly Islamic, Hindu communities in Bali, and Catholic communities in Flores. The dream of a family home, making sense of illness and spirits through rituals, dilemmas over medicine use, and the embrace of co-existing spiritual and medical perspectives are some of the main themes presented in this innovative film.

Bloomin'

Australia, Director/Writer - Nii Adjei

The film directly confronts the stigma surrounding vulnerability in males, an important contributor to male mental health struggles. Within a story that is part truth and part fiction, insight is gained into the interior emotional environment of the main character. Through this, the film portrays a man being highly vulnerable- hence directly fighting the stigma of male sensitivity that supposes they should not be emotionally vulnerable.

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silence undone

Netherlands, Director - Kristjan Knigge

To embrace a loving relationship for the first time, isolated Sophie delves into her mind-maze made of memories and fears. She learns she needs to accept that her past shouldn’t define her future. Based on a true story.

Somequotes: “Since a long time I’ve cried and I found it so recognisable. There is nothing wrong with me.” - Sexual abuse survivor "Thanks to the film I feel less alone in my process.” - Sexual abuse survivor “A powerful and hopeful film. The battle is painfully recognisable. It makes my desire to share even greater. Watching Silence Undone gives me hope, that sharing can bring you something. Understanding, warmth and being worthy to be cared about.” - Sexual abuse survivor These are some of feedback we received after test screening the film to a group of sexual abuse survivors. That's what I hoped to achieve with the film. I am so proud and honoured that I got to be part of telling this story.

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I'm So OCD

USA, Director - Beth Reiners

Kayli Hassebrock has severe OCD, but that doesn't mean she obsessively cleans and washes her hands. This documentary examines what real obsessive-compulsive disorder is, and the misconception that people think of when they say "I'm So OCD."

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UNSEEN

Australia,                                  Director - Michael Lawrence-Taylor

Unseen is an intimate personal reflection of a mental health battle Michael has been struggling for years, but through the sport he loves, he has learned how to cope with these feelings. Through Canoe Polo, Michael seeks to confront his demons and believe in himself again.

Courage To Change

Australia, Director - Christian Buxton

Carlo is talented surfer, skier and entrepreneur from Torquay with a beautiful wife and kids. From the outside his life appears to be the picture of happiness but the truth is Carlo has secretly struggled with depression for years. A house fire and and his business under threat will push him to finally reach for help

In the eyes of his mates Carlo seemingly has it all. In their words he is a “talented surfer, skier and entrepreneur from Torquay with a beautiful wife and kids”. What his mates don’t know is that he has secretly suffered from depression for years. This is his story.

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BARBARA

Canada, Director - Aidan Lesser

A lone, crisis-hotline operator receives a distressing call during her graveyard shift.

"Barbara is based upon real events that happened to our lead actress (and my mother) during her time as a crisis hotline operator. It's a personal story that faces the loneliness and stigma associated with mental illness with empathy. Additionally, the movie highlights the difficulty of being, and the courage it takes to be a hotline operator (and more broadly a professional in the field of mental health). We hope the story resonates with you as it did with us."

HANK

UK, Director - Michael Pedley

An early-30s guy struggles to regain control of his life from the hairy black monster he lives with.

"My film, HANK, features an 8ft monster who is the physical embodiment of Luke's (the main character) depression. HANK is a constant presence in Luke's life in the same way that depression is ever present even when you're having a good day. The way HANK disrupts Luke's life highlights how depression can make simple tasks difficult and difficult situations feel overwhelming. The film will hopefully allow those who suffer with depression to feel like they're not alone, but also encourage understanding in those who've never experienced mental health issues."

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Grateful

Canada, Director - Thomas Wilson

We hope that discussing mental health on a broader scale will contribute to the ongoing conversations and positive change we're seeing on perceptions towards mental health. In our opinion there is no better way to start this conversation than with bikes and cameras. With this film we wanted to add momentum to the more broader experience of the concept of mental health that is emerging. Rather than specifically associating the term 'mental health' with over-coming depression or moving from places of darkness to light. Society is now seeing it as more holistic and all encompassing; in essence a continuum that journeys closely with our state of simply 'being'.

Milton Freire, a shout beyond history

Brazil, Director - Victor Abreu

A portrait of the poet and writer Milton Freire, who was the first user of mental health services in Brazil to publicly assume his illness and fight for his rights. In a poetic way he relates two visions that guided him through a subjective recovery path.

"In a poetic way he relates two visions that guided him through a subjective recovery path. This short film is an extract of a big dive into Milton Freire’s mind, who was a common man that fought all his life to be treated as a human being, with his own affections. The poetry and symbology of his visions inspired me to create a universe that could reflect emotions I felt in the interviews and during the process of making this film. In this portrait, the ruins of a psychiatric hospital, Milton’s apartment and the streets of Rio de Janeiro are the paths that Milton walks to review, reconstruct or reinvent his own history."

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My Friend From a Care Home

UK, Director - Zlata Onufrieva

Nina is 28 and has spent most of her life in care homes, but the pandemic changes everything for her, as staying in a care home is no longer safe. Arina, a young professional from Moscow, invites Nina to temporarily live together. When restrictions are finally lifted, Nina has to go back to the care home but after spending lockdown together young women grow very close and settle on a plan they to take Nina out of the institutional system for good. Arina has to make the most controversial decision in her life.

Pumphead

Australia, Director - Andrew Pike

Pumphead explores patient experiences following major heart surgery - how to understand these experiences and how to live with them. A story of existential crises and transformative experiences, told by eight ex-patients including the filmmaker himself.

"I made this film over a period of 6 years to explain, from a patient’s perspective, what it feels like to have the Pumphead syndrome, the lay term for common experiences for many people following cardiac surgery, not only in the immediate post-surgery period, but often long-term.

I used my own experience as a patient, and the film-making skills I’d learned professionally to communicate the “inside” experience - what the pumphead syndrome feels like, day after day, month after month, year after year, relayed through my own story and through the stories of others who knew about it first-hand - patients, carers and cardiac rehabilitation experts.

I wanted the film to help other patients by letting them know they are not alone, and that their experience is common among post-surgical patients."

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Writing the World Backwards

UK, Director - Angela Robson

Lorna Collins experienced a catastrophic brain injury at the age of 18 and spent the next 20 years going in and out of psychiatric hospitals, including the infamous Esquirrol asylum in Paris, subjected to humiliating treatment and assault, before art became her pathway to recovery from crippling anorexia. This film follows her evolution from comatose patient to flourishing artist, taking us on a journey into her darkly strange and cinematic imagination. Viewers are invited to inhabit and see beyond the stages that define mental illness.

Mental As Everything

Australia, Director - Damon Smith

Damon Smith has estimated that he has spent around 50 thousand hours of his life, so far, participating in absurd ritualistic behaviours associated with his obsessive Compulsive Disorder. With a diagnosis of both, OCD and Bipolar Disorder, and with the help of his anxious friend, Adam, these two touring, Australian musicians, will share, with original music, preposterous humour and outlandish animations, the intricate and debilitating nature of what it is like to live and talk about mental illness in a world where it’s ok to talk about a broken arm but not ok to talk about a broken mind.

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The Long Road - Overcoming the Stigma of Mental Illness

USA, Director - Johnny Mandaville

A conversation surrounding the effects of stigma and its role in persons choosing to receive treatment.

In addition to interviewing those with a mental condition, this documentary hears from family members, community members, and NAMI representatives about how mental illness has touched their lives.

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Matt's Story

Australia, Director - Paul Mailath

What would you do with a second chance at life? The true story of Matt Caruana, a 14-year-old student suffering from depression who took the ultimate step and found himself with a new perspective & purpose in life

This film documents the real-life story of Matt who suffered from depression and now coaches school-children on the effects of depression and how to help each other

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Silver Lining

Russian Federation,

Director - Nikolay Levchenko

The true-life story of a millennial battling depression, anxiety, and panic attacks, along with other problems of his generation. On the way to feeling normal again, he shares his experience and thoughts about living in today's society, relationships, facing fears, and finding hope in life.

"One of the main points of the film is to break the stigma associated with mental illness and motivate young people to talk about their problems, instead of keeping them inside."