Archive: 2011 Schedule & Details

On November 25, 2011 an exciting new film festival for Atlantic Canada took place in Halifax. Hundreds of people came out to Atlantic Minds Wide Open as we presented films on a set of related themes: mental health, wellness, addiction and illness, recovery and building communities that help us all thrive and flourish. We presented films from a range of filmmakers - some involving collaborations between professional filmmakers and people exploring their creativity with one another as part of their recovery and engagement with their neighbourhoods and communities.


One of the short pieces presented that night was "Mind Over Matter", a music video created by the ASPEN family empowerment and support group, working to promote awareness about the challenges and blessings related to childrens' experiences of Asperger's Syndrome. This video was created in a wonderfully grassroots way and you can read more about it, and the group's experience of seeing the film at Atlantic Minds Wide Open, here at group member Anne-Marie McElrone's blog.


"Mind Over Matter" was one of many ingredients to the day, as we presented a range of activities and events which culminated in a screening of the award-winning film "Crooked Beauty" by San Francisco filmmaker Ken Paul Rosenthal. His film presents a poetic account of Jacks McNamara's process of recovery and emergence as a major positive force for community development and mental health advocacy in the United States. Mr. Rosenthal enthusiastically embraced his time with us in Halifax to discuss the film and share his perspectives on the power of film in relation to mental illness, positive mental health and community.


We at Atlantic Minds Wide Open are looking forward to continuing to build on the invigorating energy of November 25 by planning more events in 2012. We are especially interested in bringing the rich potential inherent in film to individuals and groups looking for a fresh and powerful vocabulary for enaging their communities in ideas, stories and art. If you are a person living with, or in relation to, a mental illness and/or addiction issue, a filmmaker, mental health worker, and/or a person involved in promoting neighbourhood and community issues, we hope you'll check in. We are excited to bring together youth as well as adults. Students in film, other fine arts and health fields, are also welcome to connect with us. If you have an interest in these issues, regardless of your station in life, we hope to hear from you and see you at a future event.


Here is what happened last year on November 25, 2011:


1:45: Doors open to the Alderney Landing Theatre, where all festival events are happening

2:00: Afternoon Panels starting at 2 pm. Alderney Landing Theatre

2:00 to 2:50: Erasing the Margins: First Person Experience on Film

An exploration of personal story-telling on film about such topics as mental illness, addictions, recovery and renewal. This panel will be moderated by Halifax filmmaker Nance Ackerman and will focus on examples of how filmmakers have been able to cast fresh light on the lives of inspirational people and neighbourhoods, and their struggles and triumphs. This session will help us how filmmaking can be a vital component of social awareness, dialogue and change.

3:00 to 3:50: Community Filmmaking Models

This session will explore different ways that people have come together to make films on themes connected to wellness and community: How do people determine what to make films about? How do individuals, group and agencies come together for these kinds of projects? Where can you get help and training to make better films? What are some common filmmaking challenges in these topics, and how are people solving them? There are a range of production and collaborative approaches that have developed in the region over the years. Filmmaker Ariella Pahlke will moderate this discussion about the partnerships that have led to making films in these areas.

4:00 to 4:50: Film, Recovery & Well-being

Psychologist Andrew Starzomski will introduce the audience to ways in which film is being used in creative ways to connect people with enriching experiences that have long-term benefits for health and wellness. Guests include Ken Paul Rosenthal ("Crooked Beauty") and Amy Spurway (ASPEN / Aspergers' Syndrome Parents' Empowerment Network).

4:45 Afternoon Panels end.


5:00 Start of the Mixer and Real to Reel session in the atrium lobby of the Theatre; complimentary refreshments and exposure to interesting local filmmakers and agencies using film in their work.


6:30: End of Real to Reel Session; People are welcome to continue socializing the lobby if they wish before the start of the evening program


6:45: Start of the "Neigbhours & Neighbourhoods" short video session. Alderney Landing Theatre; this collection of videos showcases a range of community groups and invidivuals who are striving to create dialogue and opportunity for the pursuit of well-being in their communities.

The pieces in Neighbours and Neighbourhoods are:

The Spot (community group profile; Alison Creba)

Mind over Matter (music video; Amy Spurway, the ASPEN Aspergers' support group, Kimberlee McTaggert)

Women of Substance - The Changing Culture of Addiction (documentary trailer; Nance Ackerman, Nancy Ross)

Dreams of Cambridge (autobiographical short, John Devlin; audio component with Phlis MacGregor used with permission of CBC Radio)

Here (spoken word short, Isabella LeVert-Chiasson, Katelyn Northam, Kimberley Csihas)


7:15: End of the "Neighbours & Neighourhoods" session; intermission until 7:30.


7:30: Shorts-Scene: A program of short films, featuring introductions to the work by many of the filmmakers who created them, in the Theatre. This is the second screening session of the evening, beginning at 7:30 pm, and involves presenting a series of short films that delve into the personal experiences of illness, recovery and the importance of community in those processes. The following short films are part of Shorts-Scene:

Upright Grand (Tim Wilson)

Flawed (Andrea Dorfman)

Please Respect (Robyn Badger, Gulf Island Film & Television School)

Superhero (Laura Burke, Egg Films)

Following Philip (Philip Matthews, East Coast Arts & Film Studios)

Moving On: Robyn (Marcia Connolly, CBC)

Ready Salted (animated short from the Link Up program at Edinburgh, Scotland's Orchard Hospital)


8:40: Intermission


9:00: Featured Film: Ken Paul Rosenthal and his award-winning film, "Crooked Beauty"; it is expected this film and presentation will conclude at 10:30.

Crooked Beauty is poetic documentary by American filmmaker Ken Paul Rosenthal which has won awards at film festivals in Europe and the United States. The film chronicles artist-activist Jacks McNamara's transformative journey from childhood abuse to psych ward inpatient to pioneering mental health advocate. Crooked Beauty reshapes mental health stigmas through a new healing culture and political model for living with madness as a tool of creativity, inspiration and hope. Ken Paul Rosenthal will be on hand for an interactive discussion with the audience. You can learn more about this very special film at

Ken Paul Rosenthal is an independent filmmaker, teacher, and mental health activist residing in San Francisco. He is a recipient of a Kodak Award for Cinematography and a SAMSHA Voice Award for his media work in mental health advocacy. Ken holds an MA in Creative & Interdisciplinary Arts, an MFA in Cinema Production, and has taught film as a means of cultivating personal vision in workshops and universities in the U.S. and abroad. This is his first visit to Halifax.