All’s been quiet on the Western Front here, but that’s actually because the puzzle pieces are falling into place for Mental Filmness 2022. This year we’re doing what the kids call a hybrid film festival: the majority of our films will be offered once again virtually through the Eventive platform in our wide-reaching and increasingly popular virtual festival. However, we are programming one *very special* live event from our Chicago home base that has been literally years in the making (no hyperbole).
We’re rolling out the red carpet for our “comeback” live event and hosting it at the beautiful historic Davis Theater in Lincoln Square. Save the date on your calendar, it will be October 15th from 7 p.m.-10 p.m. (five days after World Mental Health Day).
Around 7 p.m. we will screen the short film “After: A Love Story.” A dear friend of the festival noticed this gem when it screened at the Chicago Critics Film Festival and it involves some local talent. Thus, we are going to be lucky enough to have writer, producer, and lead actress Alyssa Thordarson joining us in conversation about it. The film was directed and produced by Clare Cooney, who is well-known for her work in the Chicago film scene but is based out of L.A.
“Quite often in movies we see the most climactic moment of a character’s life, but we don’t always get to see what happens after,” say Clare and Alyssa of the short film. “After: A Love Story” tells the story of a surviving couple as they work to begin healing the emotional and psychological wounds of a shared trauma.
Around 8 p.m. we will screen “A Story Worth Living,” with director, writer, and producer Vanessa Leonard, as well some of her cast and crew members, in attendance. This is the screening that has been years in the making. Vanessa wrote to me after the very first year of Mental Filmness in 2019 expressing an interest in a future screening right before the pandemic hit. The festival shifted to a virtual presence in response to that crisis. Vanessa continued to inquire about the festival and express an interest. However, she only wanted to take part in it if she could visit Chicago and present her film in front of a live audience. This year she will finally get that well-deserved chance. “A Story Worth Living” is a warm and relatable feature film that portrays mental illness in a realistic and empathetic light, perfectly fitting within the mission of the festival. Vanessa’s continued passion for mental health advocacy and the mission of our festival have been deeply moving to me and I am so excited to finally host this big-screen moment.
The virtual festival is still coming together so stay tuned for news about that. As usual, there are so many surprising, challenging, stigma-breaking films that continue to roll in. There will be some difficult decisions made and ultimately, an impressive lineup that runs the gamut from documentary to comedy to animation to horror to the unclassifiable. Our plan is for the virtual festival to become available on October 8th, two days before World Mental Health Day, and stay up through the rest of October for audiences to unlock, discover, and vote for films at their leisure.
Please share far and wide! So excited about this year’s festival!