Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival

A NATIONAL Arts and Film Festival tackling the stigma of mental health opens in Edinburgh this weekend, celebrating its ninth year.
Over 60 events are scheduled to take place across Lothian as part of the 2015 Mental Health Arts and Film Festival, making it one of the largest social justice festivals in the world, (SMHAFF) with performing arts, literature, photography, comedy and dance all set to feature.

The Festival officially opens on 10th October - World Mental Health Day – and this year explores the theme of ‘passion’
Linda Irvine Strategic Programme Manager, Mental Health and Wellbeing, NHS Lothian, said: “One in four people in Scotland will experience mental health problems at some point in their life but it is still something which attracts significant stigma.
“Through the many powerful, inspiring and provocative events taking place this year, the Festival aims to open up conversations about mental health and go some way towards challenging discrimination.”
Gail Aldam, Festival Manager, Scottish Mental Health and Arts Festival, said “We are delighted with the scale and scope of the events taking place in Edinburgh and Lothian this year and are struck by the passion that the planning team have for using art to give a voice to marginalised groups, challenging social injustice and instigating change.
“There really is something for everyone in the programme, offering an inspiring range of arts activities from spoken word to visual arts to music, across the region.”
Highlights of this year’s Festival include:
  • Out of Sight, Out of Mind A series of powerful and compelling exhibitions taking place at venues and galleries across Edinburgh featuring work from artists with experience of mental health issues. Returning to the Festival for a third year, these events aim to get us thinking and talking about mental health and challenge preconceptions.
·         A Play, A Pie and A Pint: Decent, a play by Linda Duncan McLaughlin has a special five day run at the Traverse (Tues 20th-Sat 24th Oct)
·         To celebrate Arthur Miller’s centenary, Rapture Theatre present a new production of The Last Yankee, one of the legendary writer’s final great plays which is touring throughout Lothian.
·         Rally & Broad An eclectic mix of spoken word, authors and music, the line-up features LOKI, one of Scotland’s most powerful and political performers (Fri 23rd Oct, Bongo Club, Edinburgh)
·         In the Shadow of the Castle an evening of spoken word reflecting on the Gretna train disaster in the spectacular setting of Edinburgh Castle’s Great Hall (Thurs 22nd Oct)
·         The Wellbeing Mela A free, fun, family day to celebrate diversity and promote positive mental health and wellbeing amongst Edinburgh’s varied minority ethnic communities. Music, dance, complementary therapies, relaxation workshops and lots more (Sunday 11th Oct, Out of the Blue)
·         Push Me Pull Me Join the Writing Mums, poet Jenny Lindsay and singer-songwriter Polly Phillips, for an evening of prose and poetry (Wed 28th Oct, Dunbar Library)
There is also a wide ranging film programme curated from the more than 400 entries submitted to the Festival by filmmakers from across the globe. The winners will be recognised at a special awards ceremony hosted at the Filmhouse on 29 October.
Highlights of the film programme include the Scottish premiere of documentary Dancing With Maria, telling the story of Argentinian dancer Maria Fux who welcomes dancers from all backgrounds, including men and women with physical and mental impairments, to her Buenos Aires studio and Ida’s Diary - a powerful film that has been used by many mental health organisations for training and awareness raising purposes.
Details of all events taking place as part of this year’s Festival can be found at: