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Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival starts today

The music of Scottish band BMX Bandits penetrated the depression of producer Jim Burns when nothing else could. The therapy continued when Jim decided to make a film about the Beach Boys-influenced band. The Bandits front man, Duglas T Stewart has also suffered bouts of depression –  the subject of his single ‘Serious Drugs’. Both film maker and musician will be speaking at a screening of the film Serious Drugs as part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival which starts today, 1 October.

The restorative power of art for mental health issues is long documented as are the many examples of artists who suffer from depression. The Festival aims higher and wants to improve social justice in mental health. Festival director Lee Knifton explains  ’SMHAFF has evolved to be a broader social justice festival where we’re not just looking at improving mental health for everyone, we’re looking at reducing the inequalities in well-being that we experience as a community.’

Other musicians involved in this year’s programme include Rod Jones (Idlewild) and Malcolm Middleton (ex-Arab Strap). Also taking part are writers Alan Bissett, Christopher Brookmyre and Rodge Glass, Scots Makar Liz Lochhead, comedians Mark Steel and Susan Morrison, poet and comedian John Hegley and award-winning theatre director Nicola McCartney. The Scottish premiere of I, Anna, starring Charlotte Rampling and Gabriel Byrne and directed by Rampling’s son Barnaby Southcombe, is also part of the festival.

The Glasgow Film Theatre and Edinburgh’s Filmhouse will screen Anti-Clock and Dali In New York with an appearance by filmmaker Jack Bond (pictured below with Dali). In 1965, Bond, then 28, spent two weeks with Salvador Dali filming the revolutionary documentary Dali in New York with his lover Jane Arden. They remained the only film crew that Dali ever agreed to work with.

Theatre-wise, Box of Frogs is billed as an ‘exhilarating, high-octane performance showcasing a deluge of circus skills including trick-cycling, tumbling and acrobalance, exploring circus as a metaphor for emotional instability’.

Festival director, Lee Knifton explains:’This year’s festival theme is ‘walk in my shoes’ – for many this will bring to mind the comment in To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee – “Atticus was right – he said one time that you never know a man till you stand in his shoes and walk around in them” Understanding rather than judgement is key …’.

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