Highlight: Blessed Days

Sometimes depression can be triggered or exacerbated by life trauma. Many, if not most, people experience significant depression after the loss of a loved one. The 85-year-old Adele, star of Valentina Casadei’s “Blessed Days,” has lost Victor, her husband of 63 years. The timespan seems almost unfathomable in today’s culture. The grief, one can only imagine, must be unbearable.

Adele is obviously depressed, but it’s a little more subtle than one would think. She has trouble getting out of bed, and her daughter worries about her. She becomes consumed with thoughts of Victor’s presence. But the film takes the stance that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As she imagines Victor hanging a painting and walking with her through a museum, clearly an interest they shared, she draws comfort from the fact that she still feels a connection to him and his memories.

“Blessed Days” is not a heavy-handed film about grief. Instead, it portrays it as an ever-present burden some people have to bear, that is not even crushing them so much as walking beside them. A gentle piano score and use of light highlight this walk–it may be a little slower, a little more dreamy, but it’s always forward. When the museum attendant asks where Victor is that day, Adele simply replies, “I’m alone today.”

Nor does it treat Adele’s belief that Victor is still with her in a sense as crazy, or even detrimental. It gently acknowledges that these feelings or memories are just a part of people who suffer from grief, just a part of daily life.

Valentina Casadei’s French short “Blessed Days” played on Sunday, 10/13/19, in the first shorts block from 3:00 p.m. to 4:20 p.m.



Highlight: D.A.P. Inside Other Places

D.A.P. is an Italian acronym that is used to indicate a disturbance of a psychological nature. In English, it translates to P.A.D., or panic anxiety disorder.

Italian Luca Angioli’s elegant short D.A.P. Inside Other Places accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do in its title: it lets us inside the mind of a man experiencing a panic attack.

The film opens with our unnamed man serenely staring at jellyfish while the gentle strains of Chopin’s Nocturne op.9, no. 2 play in the background. It soon becomes apparent, however, that this scenario has been constructed by the man to ward off more nightmarish scenes like the ones that are to come.

On its surface, the “plot” of D.A.P. seems average or ordinary. A man is waiting in a waiting room. Then, he is told he must wait longer. For someone with chronic anxiety, however, this situation is colored through a different lens. The man says in the beginning when he is at the aquarium that the room is a place where people wait, and that this place is the world. For people who suffer from chronic anxiety, everything is the world.

The man’s anxiety begins to intensify as little details in the room take on heightened sensitivity and meaning. The texting of a young girl, the ticking of the clock, the clutching of armrests. Then comes the moment when an attendant tells the man he must wait longer, triggering a full-blown panic attack.

There are times when film, as a medium, can communicate so effectively what it would be very difficult to do with words alone. This is one of them. The man’s panic attack is an accomplishment of sheer visual poetry. He imagines himself tied to a train track. He imagines car accidents. And yet somehow, he comes back to the jellyfish.

Luca Angioli is a talented filmmaker who has been one of our most enthusiastic supporters. We were very lucky to have shown his film, which so perfectly captures chronic everyday anxiety. Did we mention this was the U.S. premiere? “D.A.P. Inside Other Places” screened in the third shorts block on Sunday 10/13/19, from 7:00 to 7:40 p.m.



Highlight: Call Connect

Mental Filmness is almost here! Leading up to the festival, we intend to post a little information for each film that is playing, because we just don’t have enough room in a program to highlight what is wonderful about them!

It seems appropriate to start with “Call Connect,” which was the first film to pretty much unanimously blow the judges away. We knew it would be in the festival the moment we watched it, because not only did it perfectly fit our mission of promoting empathy for mental illness, it was just a tense, beautifully-made film with captivating performances and simple camerawork moving from long-take to close-up that conveyed building emotions.

The simple 16-minute short tells the story of a new crisis hotline worker (played with brilliant vulnerability by Caithlin O’Loughlin) who, in the midst of her training, is forced to take her first call when there is no one else around. The voice acting of Brendan Rock, equally powerful, expresses a type of suicidal ideation you don’t always see portrayed in films, that of someone who isn’t distressed so much as tired: someone who has been around the block, tried this before, called this line, and makes the new girl’s job even harder because he’s already heard every platitude she could think of to utter.

Fun fact: “Call Connect” screened before Fantastic Fest favorite “Chained For Life” at the 2019 Revelation Festival. Mental Filmness organizer Sharon Gissy cited “Chained For Life” as her favorite movie of last year, and this was the first film she screened for Mental Filmness. In so many ways, this pairing seems like it was truly meant to be!

Also, appropriately enough, the film will be the first to screen at Mental Filmness, at 4:00 on Saturday, October 12. Don’t miss it if you can!

Here is some biographical information about the co-directors: Josiah Allen, age 23. (Co- Director, Co-Producer, Editor)

Born in and currently living in South Australia. Josiah recently completed a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Screen) at Flinders University. He aspires to be a Director, and also loves cinematography and editing. He was awarded funding in 2017 from the MRC to make a short comedy film, which he co-directed, edited, sound designed and is submitting to festivals now. He co-directed and edited a 16mm short film called ‘And Beyond’, which was shortlisted for Tropfest 2017, and nominated for Best Comedy in the 2017 SASA. He co-wrote and directed two top 10 finalists for the 2017 ‘Supercheap Auto Big Break’ advertising competition, placing second. He has shot and co-directed four music videos for local bands, one of which was a ‘One take’ style clip, that received over 21,000 views on YouTube . He co-directed and was cinematographer on a advert for the organisation ‘Second Chances’ which received over 81,000 views. At the beginning of High school, he won the under 18 division of the Flickerfest Film Festival. He has also shot and edited over 15 weddings, working on tight budgets and timeframes. Josiah aspires to be a director and cinematographer in the Australian Film Industry.

Indianna Bell, age 22. (Writer, Co-Producer, Co-Director)

Born in and currently living in South Australia. Indianna recently completed a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Screen) at Flinders University. Her interests are writing and directing. She was recently awarded the gold prize for best comedy screenplay in the 2017 Word Series of Screenwriting for her feature-length screenplay ‘Microwave Me’. She was awarded funding in 2017 from the MRC to make a short comedy film, which she wrote, co-directed, co-produced and edited, and is submitting to festivals now. She recently wrote, co-directed and edited a short 16mm Film called ‘And Beyond’ which was short listed for Tropfest 2017, and nominated for Best Comedy in the 2017 SASA. She wrote, directed, shot and edited a short film called ‘Buying Time’, which was a finalist at the SASA 2016, Melbourne Indie Festival, and The Joy House Film Festival. She also co-wrote and directed two top 10 finalists for the 2017 ‘Supercheap Auto Big Break’ advertising competition, placing second. She has Produced, edited, and co directed five music videos, including a ‘one take’ style clip, that gained over 21,000 views on YouTube. She wrote, starred in, and co directed an advert for the organisation ‘Second Chances’, which received over 81,000 views. She also loves acting, receiving a Merit for Drama as well as English Studies in high school. Indianna aspires to be a writer and director in the Australian Film and Television Industry.