Dedicated to breaking the stigma surrounding mental illnesses, the first ever Singapore Mental Health Film Festival launches this year, taking place from 21 to 24 February 2019. The festival unveils the raw emotional struggles faced by those diagnosed with a mental illness and the loved ones who surround them, creating a space for real conversations to take place through an eclectic selection of 11 films, followed by an informative panel discussion, and various workshops happening on the fringe.

Here are our top picks of films that tackle and unravel the complexities of mental health that you need to catch at the festival:

 

Still Alice

Boasting a star-studded line-up, Julianna Moore gives a poignant performance in Still Alice as she portrays the struggles faced by those diagnosed with Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease. Alongside 30 Rock’s Alec Baldwin, the film also demonstrates a sensitive exploration of the struggles faced by her loved ones. A touching exploration of a very real yet rarely discussed mental illness happening in many homes today, Still Alice depicts the strength of familial bonds and memory in relation to identity, presenting more than just the woes but also the beauty that can come out of our struggles.

Still Alice will be screened on 22 February 2019, 7pm – 10pm at The Projector, 6001 Beach Road #05-00 Golden Mile Tower, Singapore 199589. Tickets go for $18, purchase them here. The film is followed by a panel discussion on “What is Young Onset Dementia?” and is accompanied by a short 8-minute film ‘Between Earth and Sky’ directed by Alecia Neo.

Mad World

Acclaimed Hong Kong film, Mad World, follows the life of Tung after being released from the mental hospital. Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, Tung faces stigma at work, home, and in his relationships – on top of his past haunting even himself. Winner of 2018 Shanghai Film Critics Award for Best Film, Mad World illustrates the claustrophobic urban life in Hong Kong and how culture can lead to hurtful ignorance. Bipolar Disorder is at best managed as it can’t be cured, making Tung the struggling hero of a seemingly hopeless story.

Mad World will be screened on 24 February 2019, 3.30pm – 6pm at The Projector, 6001 Beach Road #05-00 Golden Mile Tower, Singapore 199589. Tickets go for $18, purchase them here. The film is followed by a panel discussion on “Mental Health Issues in the Workplace”.

No Letting Go

Opening the festival is No Letting Go, a film exploring the struggle of not letting go and never giving up on loved ones diagnosed with mental illness. An independent feature film adapted from the award-winning short film, ILLNESS, it’s based on the real-life story of the film’s producer and co-writer, Randi Silverman and her family. No Letting Go is a heartfelt look at one family’s journey to understand and to cope with the erratic behavior and emotional instability of their middle son over course of his lifetime.

No Letting Go will be screened on 21 February 2019, 7pm – 10pm and 23 February 7pm 9.30pm at The Projector, 6001 Beach Road #05-00 Golden Mile Tower, Singapore 199589. Tickets go for $18, purchase first screening here and second screening here. The first screening is followed by a panel discussion on “Do you think they are Bipolar?” while second screening is on “Youth Talks: Living with a Family Member with Mental Illness”. Both screenings are accompanied by a short 10-minute film ‘But Honey, You Look Fine’ directed by Jennifer Leonforte.

The Girl, The Mother and The Demons

One of the festival’s foreign European films, The Girl, The Mother and The Demons is an artistic, and borderline fantastical, investigation of Schizophrenia as told through the experience of a young girl whose mother is diagnosed as schizophrenic. Whimsical with a dark undertone, The Girl, The Mother and The Demons gives a fresh take on an increasingly misrepresented mental illness, demonstrating both the very real issues surrounding it as well as hopeful solutions.

The Girl, The Mother and The Demons will be screened on 23 February 2019, 12pm – 2.30pm at The Projector, 6001 Beach Road #05-00 Golden Mile Tower, Singapore 199589. Tickets go for $18, purchase them here. The film is followed by a panel discussion on “Living with Schizophrenia”.

Much Too Young

Much Too Young is the festival’s featured documentary, following the lives of four families whose children have become young caregivers to parents that have been diagnosed with Early-Onset Alzheimers. The simple film proves to be a powerfully raw depiction of these often overlooked situations commonly taking place in many homes today. Over two years in the making, Much Too Young gives valuable insight into this muted mental illness by allowing us to peek into the vulnerable window of their intimate worlds.

Much Too Young will be screened on 23 February 2019, 3.30pm – 6pm at The Projector, 6001 Beach Road #05-00 Golden Mile Tower, Singapore 199589. Tickets go for $18, purchase them here. The film is followed by a panel discussion on “Young Caregivers for Persons with Dementia” and is accompanied by a short 8-minute film ‘Between Earth and Sky’ directed by Alecia Neo.

Top Image: Mad World