The Mental Filmness Hall of Fame: Melanie Ekholdt

I’d like to turn my attention to something near and dear to my heart–the return filmmakers, alumni, gold-star Mental Filmness members, whatever you’d like to call them. We had three returning personalities to the fest this year—from years one, two, and three–even though the festival is only four years old. I think that speaks very highly of us.

Norwegian psychiatrist and filmmaker Melanie Ekholdt charmed the hearts and minds of viewers in our very first virtual festival in, you guessed it, 2020. Her documentary In Love With Craziness, following a young rapper named Michael and his addiction and recovery after being prescribed ADHD medication, swept virtual audience votes and landed her a Stigma Breaker award. And now she returns for something completely different…

A Dollhouse 2020: Dance of Sins is part of a much larger ambitious art project re-imagining Henrik Ibsen’s feminist play A Doll’s House (published in the 1880s) set in our present tense and beyond. The project allows Melanie to step into the character of Nora from the play to explore the complex feelings she has about her own divorce. A Dollhouse 2020 is an experimental short film featuring expressive, almost cathartic dancing after a bourgeoise dinner with female friends. Symbolic images of birth capture the multi-faceted nature of romantic separation.

When I caught up with Melanie again, who is always perceptive, I was struck by a couple of things she said. One was when she said that even though we’ve come a long way since Nora’s days, divorce can still feel like a sin. She also remarked upon how painful divorce can be, even though it’s quite common now. Having been divorced myself, this sentiment especially resonated with me. I struggled with my mental health mightily after my own divorce, and I sometimes entertained the very same question: how do other people manage to survive this? How can something be so painful and debilitating and yet so common at the same time?

Melanie is a joy to speak to and I truly appreciate her continued enthusiasm for such a grassroots fest and for mental health advocacy in general. I sincerely hope that she continues to keep in touch and considers submitting any future projects because they’ve all been quite interesting and insightful.

You can watch the wonderfully weird A Dollhouse 2020: Dance of Sins in Shorts Block No. 2 in the virtual festival:

And check out an interview with Melanie to learn more about it here:

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