Rendezvous with Madness is largest film set exploring mental illness
More than 200 films from 25 countries were submitted to this year's 23rd annual Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival and one person had the chance to watch them all.
Parkdale resident Geoff Pevere, a program director for the film festival had the opportunity to watch every short, feature and documentary film entered. The festival is presented by Workman Arts and is the first of its kind and the largest film fest that investigates mythologies surrounding mental illness and addiction. Goeff states that he has learned a lot and made a specific point to watch them all. He feels it's important to give all the films as much consideration as we can and be fair to the people who submitted. These are films that are in some cases quite challenging and quite controversial. They needed to find a home regarding the issues that they raise. 40 films made the final cut and will be featured in the nine-day festival.
Geoff Pevere, states that when he was asked assemble the program this year he was delighted. The film he chose to launch the festival is the world premiere of Swift Current and chronicles the life of an NHL player Sheldon Kennedy who went from hotshot hockey player to alcoholic to advocate for victims of sexual abuse. It is a compelling story about how he struggled with his own dependency issues and what it was like being in the public spotlight while going through it all.
This year the festival has more than 20 programs, such as post-screening discussions with directors and actors and symposiums about mental health topics featured in the films all with national and international filmmakers, a media installation exhibition, and a full day symposium with the spotlight on television and addiction.
The original idea behind the festival is to present an opportunity for audiences to take a look at films that are dealing with issues of mental illness and recovery. The current goal of the festival is to increase awareness of and advocacy for mental health and addiction issues among the public. Rendezvous with Madness is the place to be to learn about mental health.
Pevere is a former movie critic, author and broadcaster who's been involved with the film festival for years in various capacities, from moderator to reporting on the festival itself and now as the program director. For him, this film festival is one of the most significant in the city. It dates back to a time when there were too many film festivals in Toronto but now it has grown with huge shifts in public awareness and thinking about mental health and addiction. A film festival like this is crucial to showcase the role creativity and artistic expression play informing self-awareness and communicating. It is a way for people who have experienced mental illness to say, "this is who I am, this is the way I see the world."