The first and largest mental health film festival in the world, Rendezvous with Madness, by Workman Arts, proudly presents its 25th Anniversary edition from November 3  to 11, 2017. The nine-day festival showcases 16 features and 34 short films from across the globe, including a series of curated short film programs, vital discussions and enlightening exhibitions. This important and provocative festival uses art to investigate and to illuminate the realities and mythologies surrounding mental illness and addiction. 2017 festival venues include the Workman Arts theatreSt. Anne’s Church, and CAMH, and as always screening events will be followed by dynamic talks with filmmakers and experts.
 
This year’s festival kicks off with the compelling opening night film and Canadian premiere of Mad to be Normal (Best International Feature and Audience Award Winner, Galway Film Flead) directed by Robert Mullan, a dramatic portrait of the radical Scottish “”anti-psychiatrist” R.D. Laing notorious for challenging psychiatric orthodoxy, played by Scottish actor David Tennant (Dr. Who, Broadchurch).

The De-Institute art installation running concurrently to the festival also opens and will be on site for viewing tomorrow night. De-Institute, features local Canadian artists presenting art based on mental health and addiction, examining alternatives to forms of institutionalized care. The exhibition will present four works by Canadian contemporary artists – two established and two emerging; Brad Necyk, a multi-media artist that focuses on patient experience, auto-ethnography, psychiatry, pharmaceutics and biopolitics; Jan Swinburne, a video-sound artist; Julie Riemersma, a multi-media and fashion artist; and Wendy Whale, a multi-media and visual effects artist. 


 
Other highlights include the International Premiere of Doctor Feelgood directed by Eve Marson, a documentary about the controversial Dr. William Hurwitz, who was convicted of over 50 counts of narcotics distribution and was handed a 25-year prison sentence; The Girl, The Mother, and the Demons directed by Sweden’s Suzanne Osten, examines how a child can normalize almost any circumstances and is inspired by Osten’s own childhood; documentary The Blood is at the Doorstep by Eric Ljung looks at the details surrounding the shooting of a 31 year-old schizophrenic black man named Dontre Williams who was shot 14 times in the middle of the day in a public park; and the World Premiere of the Canadian documentary Pushback, by first-time filmmaker Matthew Hayes, takes audiences inside the warming room, a facility in Peterborough that offers food and shelter. This eye-opening feature looks at what happens during the six months that this safe haven isn’t open.
 
In its 25th anniversary edition, Rendezvous with Madness will also present a series of signature film and discussion programmes, including Frontiers: Documentary and Alternative Treatment, which features three short documentaries that introduce new and radically different treatment models experienced and assessed by people in the programs. Women on The Verge: Global Shorts on Women’s Experience is a fascinating and surprising package of dramatic films that introduce women coping with madness and recovery discussing their varied experiences, which share the almost universal encounter of being treated and regarded through the filter of prevailing gender attitudes.  Additionally, in celebration of the 25th anniversary, the short program, If You Ask Me, a film project created by Rendezvous With Madness, will screen submissions from young people with lived experience with mental health issues from across the country.
 
This year;s In Conversation event equally addresses the relationship of women and madness through a specifically cinematic lens in Inside the House of Psychotic Women: A Conversation with Kier-La Janisse, a fascinating discussion about the role horror and exploitation films came to play in Janisse’s life as she sought both refuge and clarity in the dark and (often) forbidden world of cinematic horror.  Janisse, a Toronto-based critic, author, publisher, and film festival programmer, first documented her relationship to horror films in her pop-culture autobiography House of Psychotic Women. At once a fan’s tribute to an oft-maligned genre, Janisse’s story is also a piercing and rigorous account of how horror reflects and distorts the subjective experience of female madness.
 
Concurrent to the festival, Rendezvous with Madness and Workman Arts will also feature a media art installation, De-Institute, featuring local Canadian artists presenting art based on mental health and addiction, examines alternatives to forms of institutionalized care. The exhibition will present four works by Canadian contemporary artists – two established and two emerging; Brad Necyk, a multi-media artist that focuses on patient experience, auto-ethnography, psychiatry, pharmaceutics and biopolitics; Jan Swinburne, a video-sound artist; Julie Riemersma, a multi-media and fashion artist; and Wendy Whale, a multi-media and visual effects artist. 
 
To wrap it all up, the Festival ends with a multi-disciplinary cabaret and arts party to commemorate 30 years of Workman Arts, and 25 years of the Rendezvous with Madness Film FestivalDe Profundis: From the Depths will feature original music and spoken word, stand-up comedy, film and visual art, and showcase creations from Workman Arts Members working in all disciplines, with an after party that will go into the wee hours of the night.

 The night will begin with the closing night film Holden On at 7pm. No longer your average boy-next-door, Holden Layfield weaves audiences through his harrowing tale in this film set in the early 1990s. After succumbing to a secret battle with mental illness, Holden evolves from a beloved, small town Georgia football player to a lost, self-medicating prophet. Based on a true story.
 
Then at 930pm DE PROFUNDIS: FROM THE DEPTHS presents a showcase of fine creations from Workman Arts Members working in all disciplines — from original music and spoken word to stand-up comedy, film and visual art – and the evening’s lineup will feature creative contributions from tons of local artists. 

Tickets for Rendezvous With Madness screenings begin at $12 per single ticket. To purchase tickets visit: rendezvouswithmadness.eventbrite.ca or call: 416 583 4339. Tickets will also be available for purchase at each venue prior to screenings and limited pay-what-you-can tickets are available for persons on fixed incomes. Matinee screenings are PWYC by donation. The full schedule can be found here.
 
VENUE INFORMATION:
 
Workman Arts Theatre
651 Dufferin St, Toronto
 
St Anne’s Church
270 Gladstone Avenue
 
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) *daytime screenings
1001 Queen Street West and 33 Russell Street
 
GET SOCIAL:
 
FACEBOOK: @RWMFilmFest
TWITTER: @RWMFilmFest

About the Author

Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.