Canberra Mental Health Film Festival. National Film and Sound Archive. October 13, 9am-4pm. nfsa.gov.au. $20 per screening, $50 for an all-day pass.
Black Panther, Deadpool 2 and Solo: A Star Wars Story are some of the biggest box office hits of the year. While superheroes and space travellers might have universal traits and experiences we identify with, there's an upcoming set of films with an even more relatable theme: mental illness.
"Film is a popular medium, and people feel comfortable going into a theatre and watching a film. At the festival, they can identify with the experiences of people struggling with mental illness all around the world," said festival director Tim Daly.
It's this idea of arts being a vehicle for exploring mental health which led to the 2018 Canberra Mental Health Film Festival, the ACT's first film festival dedicated to mental health.
With his charity This Is My Brave Australia, Daly runs arts-based activities to help break the stigma of mental illness. After live theatre shows featuring locals telling their real-life mental health stories, the film festival was a natural progression.
When Daly initially called for submissions in June, the guidelines were simple. Films could be submitted by professionals or novices, and they had to defy stereotypes, share real-life stories of people with mental health issues and provide an inspiring voice for social justice.
Since this announcement, he received over 200 submissions.
Screening on Saturday are 15 films from Slovakia, France, Ireland, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. There's even one from Canberra.
"Judith Peterson's film Blokes Don't Talk is very applicable in this time, since the recent suicide figures were released. And there's been an increase in suicides in the ACT.
"This film focuses on men and their mental health, and what these men do to recover from their mental illness."
One film he believes will resonate well with local audiences given the ADF presence in Canberra is a Canadian documentary about front-line servicepeople dealing with PTSD.
After the screening, there will be a panel discussion with an army veteran and child protection worker who have both experienced PTSD.
"There are a few films that focus on the stigma of mental health. So these films try to tear down the perception that people with mental illness are different to everyone else."
It's a stigma that Daly sees manifest often. The people he meets through his This Is My Brave work often reveal they experience the worst stigma within their own family. It also strikes in friendship circles, in the workplace and even from medical professionals, said Daly.
"This stigma is a huge barrier to these people getting help."