Au Contraire Film Festival on Mental Illness challenges stereotypes

Many misconceptions can surround mental illness. The inability to cope with the stresses of daily life is perceived as weakness or laziness. Images of the tormented artist suggest that creativity and pain must be interconnected.

It is such myths that Philip Silverberg and Marcel Pinchevsky, organizers of Au Contraire, a film festival on the theme of mental illness, wish to dispel. “We’re using film as another way to change your perspective,” Silverberg says.

Screenings, including documentaries, drama and animation, will be followed by panel discussions. The festival is run by volunteers, some of whom are dealing with mental health issues, yet manage to contribute to the community. “I challenge anyone to know the difference,” Silverberg said.

It was Pinchevsky’s task to assemble the films. “It has to do with understanding the topic and choosing films showing the optimistic side. Not like Hollywood, where suddenly your life is turned around, but in each film somebody can say ‘I can see the future, it is positive, there is hope.’”

The stigma surrounding mental illness prevents many people from seeking the help they need, both organizers said. It is their hope that the festival will alleviate that. “A film offers a protected environment and anonymity. You know you’re not alone,” Silverberg says.

Au Contraire Film Festival on Mental Illness runs Oct. 22-25 at the Museum of Fine Arts, 1379 Sherbrooke W. Tickets $10.

The festival will open with the screening of Out of Mind, Out of Sight by Emmy award-winning filmmaker John Kastner.

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