The Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival is back this October, bringing hundreds of arts events to venues all around Scotland, all with the aim of raising awareness of mental health and tackling stigma against mental illness—and (of course) presenting some awesome film, theatre, visual art, literature and much more to brighten up your October.

Of course, with nearly 300 events (did you hear that? 300!) it could be a smidge difficult to make it along to everything. Luckily, the hard-working SMHAFF festival team are here with some of their favourites to help you make up your mind.

Vanessa Coffey's Mirror Mirror
Vanessa Coffey’s Mirror Mirror

(Gail Aldam, Festival Manager):
“Having worked on the festival for a few years now, it’s always great when we can form a brand-new partnership and bring our audiences something totally new. This year I’m really excited for our first literature weekend, created in partnership with Aye Write! Glasgow’s book festival.  For one weekend in October we’re teaming up to host discussions with some great literary names, including Alasdair Gray, Denise Mina and Sophie Hannah, around ideas of reading, writing and mental health.”

(Alex Queneau, Marketing Manager):
“The event I’m most looking forward to is definitely our screenings of Alan Berliner’s First Cousin Once Removed at GFT and Edinburgh’s Filmhouse, accompanied by Q+As with the man himself. I’m a real film person, and I love going along to Q+As where directors and filmmakers talk with such a passion and love for film—not just their own movie, but the genre. First Cousin is a deeply personal film for Berliner too, created over a period of five years as he filmed his great friend and cousin, Poet Edwin Honig, succumbing to the grip of Alzheimer’s disease. I think the film and the post-show discussion will be a great event for anyone interested in exploring mental health through film.”

(Christine Irvine,  Communications Officer):
“The SMHAFF theatre programme is really strong this year and I’m looking forward to it kicking off with a double-bill of shows at one of my favourite Glasgow venues, the Tramway, on 3 Oct. The double-bill is two shows (not surprising!): one called Mirror/Mirror, exploring eating disorders; and the other, Mental, looking at the intertwining of depression and artistic expression. I love theatre that gets right up in your face and makes you think about things, so this intimate show for an audience of just 50 is right up my street!”

Barrowland Ballet’s Tiger

(Melanie Bavajee, Festival Assistant):
“So hard to pick! At the moment I’m really looking forward to seeing Barrowland Ballet’s Tiger again—we went to the preview night at Platform, and although I had very little idea what to expect when I went in, the show just blew me away with its inventiveness, beauty and emotion. Tiger uses contemporary dance to introduce us to a family who have grown totally dysfunctional; their lives fully caged in. It takes the arrival of a tiger to remind them of how much they love each other.  The talent and stamina of the three dancers was just amazing! A definite must-see of the Festival.”

The Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film festival runs from 1-26 October, all across Scotland. For more information on what’s going on near you, visit

The 2013 programme can be viewed and downloaded online here.

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