Atlantic Minds Wide Open is bringing together an exciting mix of people and films to explore the themes of mental illness and wellness in the context of community. Why are these significant topics to explore through film?

One out of five Canadians experience a mental illness every year. Anxiety, depression, psychosis, autism, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse and dementias are just some of these conditions.

Five out of five Canadians can be involved in enhancing their own mental health, and contributing to the well-being of others. We can learn to flourish, become happier people and enrich the lives of those around us. Moving successfully in those directions can help us overcome some of the known toxins of well-being: loneliness, cynicism and passivity.

Atlantic Minds Wide Open will provide a forum for experiencing how film can help us gain valuable perspectives on these kinds of issues:

  • personal, family and community involvement with mental illness and addiction challenges
  • the nature of social stigma around mental health, addictions and other issues,
  • inspiration and hope in the face of adversity
  • pathways of personal development, including the use of film and the arts
  • the building of healthy, vibrant communities where everyone has a valued place.

There are many intriguing contact points between film and these issues of mental illness, wellbeing and the nature of communities. While films are typically made in order to entertain, educate, or provide a path for creative expression, at their core most films also aim to establish a connection between creators and an audience. The processes involved in making films happen to touch on many of the core elements of well-being that are emerging in fields related to healthcare science. Making films is a wonderfully rich, positive and stimulating environment in which to nurture personal growth, social connection and the pride of accomplishing and sharing something meaningful. Filmmaking is an exciting way for individuals in recovery from problems with mental illness to tell their story, build happiness and meaning into their life and forge new connections with others. For these kinds of reasons and more, filmmaking warrants special attention as a powerful and accessible way in which people can enrich their quality of life and build community.

We hope you will join us for the Atlantic Minds Wide Open film festival as we explore together how film can bring us to new awareness about these various areas.

We are curious to see if there is interest in making this festival an annual event for the region. We aspire to create an organization that can promote quality filmmaking on these themes mental health and the building of healthy communities - by helping emerging artists access opportunities for training, mentorship and access to equipment.

The festival will be of particular interest to individuals living with mental illness and/or addictions issues, their families, filmmakers, mental health workers, and people involved in promoting neighbourhood and community issues. We are excited to bring together youth as well as adults. Students in film, other fine arts and health fields, are also welcome.

In 2011, the Atlantic Minds Wide Open film festival was created by a partnership of people who want to promote positive change in our region through film: people such as psychologists Brad Kelln and Andrew Starzomski, filmmakers Nance Ackerman and Ariella Pahlke, community action leader Ryan Veltmeyer of Heartwood Youth Centre and the great people at Egg Studios. In 2012 we welcome Laura Burke and Sobaz Benjamin to the planning process.