World Mental Health Day & The Opening of Mental Filmness 2022

October 10th is World Mental Health Day. World Mental Health Day is an international day for global mental health education, awareness, and advocacy against social stigma. It’s no coincidence that Mental Filmness is planned around this time every year—it shares pretty much the same goals. 

We are back for our fourth year (I can’t believe it) with an amazing lineup as usual. We have films featuring three returning filmmakers, which I think speaks highly of a festival that has been running for three years total. And coincidentally enough, they are from years one, two, and three. Make sure to order your free pass, which will then allow you access to all of the Mental Filmness 2022 films, here:

Philip Brubaker, who gifted us with the inspiring documentary Brushes With Life, about art, artists, and mental illness, as well as his presence at the very first fest, graces us this year with How to Explain Your Mental Illness to Stanley Kubrick. Aside from boasting one of the best titles ever, the film is a thoughtful exploration of Kubrick’s problematic portrayal of mental illness and violence as well as a personal memoir of Brubaker’s own struggle with bipolar disorder and his attempt to explain the reality of mental illness to his cinematic hero Kubrick. 

Melanie Ekholdt, who won audience’s hearts and minds with her documentary In Love With Craziness portraying a talented youth with ADHD in Year Two, brings us something much different but no less compelling in A Dollhouse 2020: Dance of Sins. This experimental short re-imagines the character Nora from Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House projected into 2020 as she expresses the psychic pain of divorce and rebirth through interpretive dance and imagery. 

Kagan Goh, who gave us last year’s The Day My Cat Saved My Life, is actually the subject rather than the director this year of a short documentary, Re-Live, that provides more background about Kagan and how he overcame the challenges presented by his bipolar disorder to become a successful artist and mental health advocate. 

In addition to these Mental Filmness alumni, there is a host of amazing new films that run the gamut from whimsical silent to watercolor animation to heady (pun intended) sci-fi to some more traditional but still incredibly powerful documentaries and dramatic narratives. There is a Ukranian film about agoraphobia, a German film about art therapy in nursing homes, and a film from the United Kingdom about the common yet largely unknown fear thanatophobia–a very specific fear of our own death and non-existence. In what seems like one of those meaningful synchronicities, there are actually two films called Equilibrium—one is a short, philosophical South African film featuring a camera that passes on generational trauma, and one is an Israeli film about eating disorders. 

There are *so many* interviews, and a few more on their way! Check out what these creative, insightful, passionate filmmakers have to say: Mental Filmness 2022 Interviews | Mental Filmness 2022 (

I really want to make sure *all* of these unique films are highlighted, so will post about at least one a day here. I know the number of films + number of days until early November means I will have to double up a few times.

And of course, local Chicagoans, don’t forget about our first LIVE event since 2019 this Saturday! Mental Filmness Live! | Facebook

One common theme runs throughout Mental Filmness, and that is the desire to share stories or break stigma surrounding mental health. Many people who live with mental illness can find it isolating and so they create a way to connect to others or to communicate what it’s like (that’s pretty much our story, and the story of many of the films). Some of us wish to understand ourselves—or others in our lives—better. I like to say, a well-made, relatable film about any big human topic can serve as both a window and a mirror. It can reflect ourselves, and maybe just help us see into the perspective of someone else just a little bit better. And understanding is how we create empathy, and how we break stigma. 

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