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World Mental Health Day: How Film Can Help Destigmatise Mental Health

The 10th of October is World Mental Health Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness about mental health issues and promoting mental well-being.

At Kingston International Film Festival, we believe that film has the ability to shed light on the complexities of mental health and contribute to important conversations surrounding it. Films can help to destigmatise mental health challenges, increase empathy, and offer comfort through relatability to those who may be struggling. They can help us better understand the experiences of individuals dealing with mental health issues and inspire us to take action.

To show our support this Mental Health Day, the KIFF team have created a list of amazing short films that were submitted to our 2023 festival.

Short Independent Films About Mental Health Awareness from KIFF 2023:

1. Waving

Director: Rolfin Nyhus, Steven Brumwell

Synopsis: An unflinchingly honest portrayal of the devastating reality behind the misunderstood anxiety disorder of OCD, starring Ralph Ineson ('The VVitch’ - Robert Eggers, 'The Ballad of Buster Scruggs' - Coen Brothers, 'The Green Knight' - James Lowry and 'The Tragedy Of Macbeth' - Coen Brothers).

Waving explores the anguish of a father in self-imposed exile to shield his family from his obsessive-compulsive disorder and the emotionally destructive thoughts he cannot escape.

Director's statement: Waving focuses on the incredible toil pure OCD has on mental health. When every thought comes with dire warnings and every object radiates anxiety into the very centre of your being.

I was once told by a Jungian therapist that my pathology makes me believe I am the centre of the world. The obsessions that bad things will happen, particularly to my family, unless I carry out the illogical compulsions is a crippling condition. You are never at peace unless you are intoxicated or asleep. Waving takes this premise to its extreme. What would happen if the person responsible for the continued existence of everything just gave up?

Thank you to 'Waving' for submitting to KIFF 2023!

2. You Are Enough

Director: St Luke's Primary School

Synopsis: Abbie is struggling with life in primary school. SATS, growing up, moving to secondary school and losing her friends is making her increasingly worried and upset. Each night she has nightmares about her future, until her dreams appear and take her on an adventure of self-discovery where she must learn to overcome her anxieties. But will she be able to do it?

Devised and developed by the children of St Luke's CEVA Primary School, Northampton, UK. Children from year 1-6 worked on all aspects of the film, dictating the content, themes, direction and style of the film. Assisted by Mr Forder, their Drama teacher. This film was submitted to KIFF by Dale Forder on behalf of the children of the St Luke's Primary School.

Thank you for submitting to KIFF 2023!

3. Eve

Director: Jordon Stevens

Synopsis: A young woman's isolation is shattered with a knock from next door. As a relationship develops and her self-confidence grows, we see what at first appeared hostile might just be the life-line she’s been longing for. A film exploring our primal need for connection.

Director's statement: Eve essentially started out as a love story, examining how quickly we can make a bond with another. However, it turned into a deeper exploration of isolation and our overwhelming desire for connection. As social creatures, can human beings truly exist alone? Eve is a woman for everyone; she is isolated, frustrated, sensual, silenced, complex and imperfect, existing in a vacuum and struggling with her mental health in solitude. Hers felt like a universal story, and during this process of creating the film, we were able to explore the growing pains that come with curiosity, how to cling to hope in spite of confinement, and the life-affirming power of connection in all its forms.

Thank you to 'Eve' for submitting to KIFF 2023!

4. Sections

Director: Darren Rapier

Synopsis: A new patient is admitted to the Manor Lake Adolescent Psychiatric Unit, just as a new member of staff is also arriving. This 'slice of life' drama follows their first few hours.

Director's statement: Having worked for over 20 years in various adolescent psychiatric units and hospitals I wanted to make something that reflected what it's genuinely like for staff and patients. Sections takes a handful of true-life experiences and presents them as a drama, reflecting the truth and anxieties of staff and patients and looking at the mental health needs of both.

Thank you to 'Sections' for submitting to KIFF 2023!

5. Cake

Director: Fran St Clair

Synopsis: "Consume too much, it'll make you sick." For Layla, life is anything but a piece of cake.

This short likens isolation and the overwhelming feelings of living in today's society to cake.

Thank you to 'Cake' for submitting to KIFF 2023!

6. A Love Letter to Depression

Director: Jesse Roth

Synopsis: In this visual poem, the writer and performer Haleem explores his own mental-health by writing a letter to his depression.

Director's Statement: The film is an attempt to capture Haleem's true experience of depression in his latter teenage years, taking the form of a visual poem and looking back at some incidents which defined the best and worst moments. The film hopes to encapsulate how easily depression can affect us all, but also how you can come out of the fog with the right help. It was important the film was relatable and the words accompanying the visuals told Haleem's story as it is one we could all find familiarity in. The ending message being the shocking statistic of the high suicide rate of males, specifically in the UK. That percentage disproportionately affects men and talking about it more is the only way to take the stigma away and we should not be afraid to say if we need help.

Thank you to 'A Love Letter to Depression' for submitting to KIFF 2023!


We invite you to join us in watching and discussing these shorts, as they remind us of the importance of mental health awareness and the role film can play in advocating for support. Check out our Instagram for our Mental Health Day feature.


Mental health helplines and charities

Samaritans. Samaritans provide 24-hour online and phone support to people in distress. Call: 116 123.

Mind. Mind is a charity that provides advice and support for people experiencing a mental health problem in England and Wales. Call: 0300 123 3393 (Mon to Fri, 9am to 6pm)

Rethink Mental Illness. Support and advice for people living with mental health problems. Call: 0300 5000 927 (Mon to Fri, 9.30am to 4pm)

SANE. National out-of hours mental health charity offering emotional support, guidance and information. Call: 0300 304 7000 (4.30pm to 10.30pm)

Mental Health Foundation. Information and support for anyone with mental health problems or learning disabilities.

Hearing voices & peer support

Voice Collective. Support and information for children and young people who hear, see or sense things that others don’t.

Hearing Voices Network. Support and information for people who hear voices, see visions, or have other unusual experiences.

Children and adolescents

Childline. Support for people under 19 in the UK. Call: 0800 11 11

Young Minds. Child and adolescent mental health charity. Call: 0808 802 5544 (parents’ helpline)

Suicide prevention

CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably). Charity dedicated to preventing male suicide. Call: 0800 58 58 58 (nationwide), 0808 802 58 58 (London)

Papyrus Hopeline UK. Confidential support for young people struggling with suicidal thoughts. Call: 0800 068 41 41

At-Risk Mental State services in London

Tower Hamlets Early Detection Service (THEDS). Support to young people at-risk of psychosis in Tower Hamlets, East London. Call: 0203 487 1320

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