Culture  The 3rd Annual Au Contraire Film Festival

What to see at this year's festival

The Au Contraire Film Festival (ACFF) attempts to raise awareness and destigmatize mental illness by showing films about mental illnesses. After each show, stick around for the post-screening panel discussions featuring clients of mental health services, health professionals, and movie producers.

Tuesday, October 27
Touched With Fire
Maxwell Cummings Auditorium, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 7 p.m.

The festival opens with the Canadian premier of Touched With Fire, a film that tells the story of Marco and Carla, two manic-depressive artists who, after meeting at a psychiatric hospital, oscillate between the extremes of intense inspiration and destructive suicidal ideation. Despite warnings from doctors and friends, the two fall into a romance, and attempt to navigate love, medication, and sanity together. Institutionalized four times for bipolar disorder starting when he was 24, writer and director Paul Dalio decided to craft this autobiographically inspired movie, starring Katie Holmes, with executive producer Spike Lee, while studying film at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Thursday, October 29
DocuMental Series
Maxwell Cummings Auditorium, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

A series of Canadian and foreign short films delve into a handful of stories, some only five minutes long, others 25 minutes or more. The DocuMental series allows viewers to experience a variety of cinematographic styles and subject matter all in one sitting.

Leben, A Short History of Madness
2 p.m.

Leben is a German short film exploring the realities of living with obsessive compulsive disorder. Translated in English to “Touching Life,” the short follows the protagonist, Ben, over the course of a day. Fed up with his illness and invited to a neighbouring town for a job interview, Ben must decide between staying home or venturing out into the unpredictable world.

A Short History of Madness uses contemporary dance to portray the evolution of the treatment of mental illness in Quebec, starting from the late 19th century.

The Phone Call, Letting You Go
7 p.m.

The Oscar-winning short The Phone Call follows the length of a phone conversation between a crisis hotline worker and a man in distress, unfolding over the course of its twenty-minute run time.

Letting You Go is a Dutch documentary that follows the decision of Sanne, a young woman, to self-euthanize after years of treatment for boderline personality disorder, chronic depression, and insomnia. Director Kim Faber, as well as Sanne’s father, will be present after the screening to discuss assisted suicide laws and self-determination.

Friday, October 30
The Living Museum
Maxwell Cummings Auditorium, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 7 p.m.

In 1983, the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Queens, New York housed about 1,350 patients. That same year, psychologist Janos Marton invited Bolek Creczynski, a Polish artist known for his work in political art and experimental theatre, to join the hospital staff. Together, the two guided the transformation of an abandoned building on the campus known as Building 75 that housed the main kitchen for the Creedmoor patients. Marton and Creczynski had the ability to see through the grime and faded interior of the deserted building and, with time, created an ever-changing space full of art and beauty, the Living Museum. Academy Award-winning director Jessica Yu spent over a year following the artistic development of six different patients, creating a nuanced and complex account of life in a state mental institution.

For a full listing of films, head to: