Fall is finally here, and with the days getting shorter and the weather getting colder, it’s the perfect time to go to the movies. If you love all types of films, fall is the best time of year. TIFF just wrapped up, and there is a handful of great festivals right around the corner; Planet in Focus (October 15-20), Toronto After Dark (October 17-25), and imagineNative (October 22-27), just to name a few. And this coming Thursday marks the launch of a festival that’s very near and dear to my heart, Rendezvous with Madness (RWM).
RWM begins on October 10th (which is also World Mental Health Day) and runs until October 20th. The festival, which is produced by Workman Arts, “Investigates the facts and mythologies surrounding mental illness and addiction as presented by both Canadian and international filmmakers, Canadian live performance makers, as well as by visual and media-based artists.”
Festival-goers should expect an entertaining line-up of films, comedy, and other types of live performances. RWM is an essential cultural event for anyone who wants to participate in society’s growing dialogue about mental health.
Rendezvous With Madness press release:
After 25 years as the first and largest mental health film festival in the world, in 2018, Rendezvous with Madness launched into their next 25 years as a multidisciplinary arts festival adding live performance, music and visual art to their established mix of provocative films. Today the festival is thrilled to announce the full programming line-up for its 27th edition, running from October 10 – 20, 2019 and showcasing 14 feature film and short programs from around the globe, 4 live performance pieces, a visual arts exhibition, AND the addition of a new event, Laughter vs. The Universe – a one night only comedy showcase designed to remind us that sometimes laughter truly is the best medicine.
This important and provocative festival uses art to investigate and illuminate the realities and mythologies surrounding mental illness and addiction, and in that spirit, this year, Rendezvous with Madness introduces the unifying theme and discussion prompt #GetMad, inviting audiences, artists – and anyone who wants to join the conversation – to share what ‘mad’ means to them
Extending the conversation, almost all screening events this year will be followed by compelling and urgent talks with filmmakers and experts in a programmed discussion series entitled #GetMad: Join the Conversation.
Rendezvous With Madness Feature Film Line-up:
OPENING NIGHT FILM
Conviction Nance Ackerman, Ariella Pahlke, Teresa MacInnes | 2019 | Canada | 78 mins October 10 | 6:30 PM | Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema
World Mental Health Day
Women have become the highest growing prison population in the world. In Conviction, a team of documentary filmmakers gain access to a female correctional facility in Nova Scotia to tackle the crisis from within. Instead of simply conducting interviews, the filmmakers collaborate with women in the facility to create a deeply personal documentary. Using cameras, spoken word poetry and art supplies, the women share their experiences with institutionalization and unapologetically address the ineptitude of incarceration.
Bedlam Kenneth Paul Rosenberg | 2019 | USA | 84 mins | Canadian Premiere
Haunted by the death of his sister Merle, psychiatrist Kenneth Paul Rosenberg takes on the role of documentary filmmaker to examine a national health crisis in the US. Bedlam follows personal stories of people living with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other chronic mental health issues with a television style precision. Bedlam describes the deinstitutionalization triggers pulled in the mid- and late 20th century (which occurred in Canada as well) to create this ‘bedlam’ on an inter/national scale.
Chaos Sara Fattahi | 2018 | Austria, Syria, Lebanon, Qatar | 95 mins | In Arabic and German with English Subtitles | Toronto Premiere
Winner of the Golden Leopard Award at the 2018 Locarno Film Festival, Chaos tells the story of three women in three cities and asks: what’s the effect of war on the human spirit? As the personal stories of these Syrian women are intimately revealed, Chaos bears witness to the scarred existence of survivors. Beguiling our senses, Fattahi draws us into the processes of profound grief and inner disengagement.
Foxy, Trista Suke | 2018 | Canada | 60 mins
Hair is just keratin protein and dead skin cells. Yet, today and historically, beauty standards have made hair and its appearance a signifier of status. When you are dissatisfied with the state of your hair, each haircare advertisement is a microaggression advocating anything but otherness. Foxy is a spunky film that debunks the social stigma surrounding alopecia universalis by interweaving a scripted memoir of director Trista Suke’s personal story with interviews highlighting people from the community who are also living with hair loss.
If You Ask Me (IYAM) 50 mins |1-hour panel discussion
For its 3rd consecutive year, If You Ask Me (IYAM) has supported emerging filmmakers with mental health and/or addiction experiences to create new work. This constantly evolving program has grown to follow the needs of the filmmakers and RWM is very excited to be showing four new short films in 2019 by Saba Akhtar, Julianne Ess, Erum Khan and James Knott.
In Search… Beryl Magoko | 2018 | Germany, Kenya | 90 mins | In German and Swahili with English Subtitles | Toronto Premiere
The director of In Search…, Beryl Magoko underwent Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) as a child. Years later, Beryl learns that her FGM can be reversed with the help of reconstructive surgery. After everything she has been through, she is hesitant to make a decision and wonders if she will be making another terrible mistake. In her documentary, Beryl searches for an answer through asking other women who survived FGM about their experiences and thoughts on reconstructive surgery.
Junha’s Planet Hyung-sook Hong | 2018 | South Korea | Korean with English Subtitles | 108 mins | Canadian Premiere
Junha is a 4th grader who doesn’t make friends easily. His peers are afraid that he will attack or spit on them so they don’t play with him. Junha’s teachers spend most of their time trying to discipline him or simply understand why he behaves the way he does. But Junha lives on the Autism spectrum. Concerned parents of his classmates question whether he should be educated in the same environment as their kids and while the school advocates for Autism awareness and encourages children to support Junha – many lose their patience – including Junha himself, is a quiet and observational documentary that addresses some of the most pressing issues intersecting disability and education.
Kabul, City in the Wind Aboozar Amini | 2018 | Netherlands, Afghanistan, Japan, Germany | Dari and Pashto with English subtitles | 88 mins
In this subtle and beautiful documentary portrait, first-time feature film director Aboozar Amini captures the everyday lives of 12-year old Afshin and his younger brother Benjamin alongside bus driver Abas. The three subjects of this subtle portrait of Kabul take us on a journey of their daily lives where war is omnipresent. Amini’s gentle camerawork gives us time to witness the intricacies of life in Kabul where dust appears as a main “character” in the film. Kabul, a city that is mostly known for war and death is presented lovingly as home for those who strive for a better tomorrow.
M Yolande Zauberman | 2018 | France | Yiddish, Hebrew, English with English Subtitles | 115 mins
Menahem Lang is an Israeli actor with a tragic past. He was raped as a child by several older men from his own community. Lang grew up in the Haredi sect, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community known for its theological conservatism. After confronting one of his abusers, Lang left his hometown of Bnei Brak and hasn’t returned until the creation of this film when he returns to face his community, his trauma and to seek justice. But more than anything, Lang ends up finding other survivors. Through many candid interviews in M we learn that child molestation is rampant in their community, turning the abused into abusers in a vicious circle of sexual violence.
My Soul Drifts Light upon a Sea of Trees Heinrich Dahms | 2018 | Japan, Netherlands | 93 mins | Japanese with English Subtitles | North American Premiere
Suicide is universal. The figures are staggering. After losing an uncle and two friends to suicide, Zen Buddhist Itettsu Nemoto made it his life’s work to support individuals struggling with depression and suicidal ideation. Despite cultural taboos from a temple in the high mountains of central Japan, priest Nemoto takes a community-focused holistic approach to healing trauma. My Soul Drifts upon a Sea of Trees inscribes the journey and mission of Nemoto as he helps three people find life after limbo.
Nos vies formidables / Our Wonderful Lives, Fabienne Godet | 2018 | France | 117 mins | In French with English Subtitles | Toronto Premiere
Group therapy sessions. Community meals. Heartfelt conversations. This life is foreign to Margot, a thirty-something woman from a wealthy French family. Margot lives with addiction and she’s just enrolled in a rehab facility in a remote French countryside. It’s quaint and dreamlike in the country which is the complete opposite of Margot’s fractured mental state. Repressed emotions make Margot reluctant to open up to strangers. She doesn’t believe in the community approach to recovery. But what will happen if she lets go of her preconceived notions of group therapy and allows others to help her?
Retrospekt / Retrospect Esther Rots | 2018 | Belgium, Netherlands | Dutch and Flemish with English Subtitles | 101 mins
Retrospect is a chaotic puzzle of an unreliable narrator’s memories contrasted by overwhelming punk music and mutilated by a sporadic and anarchic timeline. At the heart of the story is Mette and her perfect nuclear family; well, at least on the outside. Mette is a domestic violence support worker. We see her intervene in violent conflicts; confronting her husband who clearly devalues the importance of her career and suddenly see Mette in the hospital following a catastrophic accident. She’s in a wheelchair and doesn’t have any recollection of what happened to her. Gradually, she starts remembering how she invited one of her clients, Lee, to live with her to “save” her from Lee’s violent partner. Mette’s flashbacks offer vague clues to the calamity. But who is to blame for Mette’s downfall?
Tale of The Sea Bahman Farmanara | 2018 | Iran | In Farsi with English Subtitles | 97 mins
This delicate and quiet film, part family drama part homage to older Iranian artists, comes from veteran director Bahman Farmanara. Taher Mohebi, a well-known writer, breaks down after witnessing a violent murder and spends three years in a mental institution. After his release, Taher is told that things are just as they were before but his relentless hallucinations make him want to return to the institution. This film is dedicated to Abbas Kiarostami and displays the late master’s understanding of human relationships.
CLOSING NIGHT FILM
Irene’s Ghost Iain Cunningham | 2018 | UK | 82 mins | Canadian Premiere
Iain Cunningham was three when his mother Irene died. His father never spoke of it and the family’s silence around Irene meant that she was alive only in Cunningham’s imagination. The birth of his own child inspires a journey to discover the truth, piecing together fragments of the past to make sense of the present. Utilizing gorgeous animation alongside moving archival footage, Irene’s Ghost lovingly rebuilds Irene’s lost life.
Rendezvous With Madness live performance program:
Intangible Adorations, Created by Lisa Anita Wegner and Scott White
Workman Arts Chapel
Intangible Adorations is an immersive theatrical experience that explores the impact of celebrity worship on the mental health of the famous, and on those who become infatuated with celebrity. Audience members will gather in the Hall of Celebrity, have the opportunity to learn the best way to approach someone famous, and then experience an iconic piece of performance art in the Red Chapel enacted by a celebrity whose identity is concealed by a morph suit. Will they reveal their identity, or will they choose to remain anonymous? That will be up to the individual who represents the ICON each night. Who in the audience will have the courage to participate in a celebrity panel where they’ll get a taste of what it feels like to be famous?
In This House, Written and Directed by Grace Thompson
Workman Arts Theatre
Charlie is looking for happy, Remi is a struggling musician and bartender who has clinical depression, Jinx is a burlesque performer and PhD candidate who works at The Orange Balloon, and Minka, no one knows what Minka does. In This House is a play about four young adults living together in Toronto. It is a look into the epidemic of loneliness and depression among the Millennial generation and the daily struggle to make something of yourself in this city. In This House is a play about a generation, a city and an exact time in our lives. This is a play about how we save each other.
PSYCHOSIS, Choreographed by Ronald Taylor
Workman Arts Theatre
PSYCHOSIS: inspired by the investigation of Ronald’s mental health episode in Canada and pulls into the present to explore an awareness of adversity, reconciliation and resilience. By connecting relationships between disability, environment and the human spirit, PSYCHOSIS seeks to explore the trauma and ongoing challenges of mental health, while dealing with bouts of darkness, depression and the human psyche.
The Life and Death of Fred Herko, Written by Natalie Liconti
Dead End Studio
In 1964, at the age of 28, a queer dancer named Fred Herko jetéd out the window of his ex-lover’s apartment – naked, and high on speed. The Life and Death of Fred Herko is an interdisciplinary, site-specific performance that sheds light on a footnoted figure in queer history and examines the collateral damage of art.
Rendezvous With Madness Comedy:
Laughter vs. The Universe, hosted by Christophe Davidson Saturday, October 19, 7PM
For our closing night event, Comedy Bar and Rendezvous with Madness are thrilled to team up for a one night only special comedy showcase designed to remind us that sometimes laughter is the best medicine. Join us for a very special celebration of some of Canada’s very finest stand-ups! Featuring a star-studded line up including guest appearances from Christophe Davidson, Tamara Shevon and a special headline performance by Chanty Marostica.
Visual Arts Exhibit: Making Mad: How Expressions of Vulnerability
Gallery Hours: Daily, 12-6 PM (CLOSED Monday, October 14)
Opening Reception: Thursday, October 10, 7-11PM
Toronto Media Arts Centre
Through humour and pathos, the artists in Making Mad explore the ways in which depictions of vulnerability in their work resonate on a human scale. Deep-diving into personal touchstones that go beyond the individual, these works relate in poignant and absurd ways to our condition as a collective of fallible, temporal beings. Curated by Claudette Abrams.
Rendezvous With Madness venues:
Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, 506 Bloor Street West – Accessible venue
AGO (Jackman Hall) 317 Dundas St West – Accessible venue
Workman Arts Theatre, 651 Dufferin Street
Chapel, Workman Arts Theatre – 651 Dufferin Street
Toronto Media Arts Centre (TMAC), 32 Lisgar Street – Accessible venue
Comedy Bar, 945 Bloor Street. West.
Dead End Studio, 7 Fraser Ave #13