Rendezvous With Madness Festival is the largest and longest-running arts festival in the world dedicated to the intersection of mental health and artistic expression.

The 2023 Festival runs from October 27 to November 5, 2023, presenting 10 feature films and 2 short programs, for a total of 38 films from 12 countries. As always, films are complemented by thought-provoking post-screening Q&As and curated panel discussions, extending the uniquely meaningful conversations that define Rendezvous With Madness.  

The festival gets underway on Friday, October 27th at the CAMH Auditorium with the Toronto Premiere of a personal documentary from Vancouver-based filmmaker Nisha Platzer, BACK HOME. A kaleidoscopic portrait of loss and healing, the film follows Platzer’s pursuit to get to know her older brother, Josh, twenty years after he took his own life. As she connects with the friends who knew him best as a teen, a complex portrait emerges. Through intimate recollections re-imagined on Super8 and 16mm film, and lyrical images hand-processed with plants, seaweed, soil, and ashes, ‘back home’ floats between memory and present time in a fragmented meditation on identity, grief, and loss: illuminating the transformative power of healing in community.

The impact of mental health and neurodivergence on family recurs through the festival in films from across the globe including documentary BECAUSE WE GAVE EACH OTHER from acclaimed Australian filmmaker Sari Braithwaite, which chronicles the life of a neurodiverse family of seven on the working-class fringe; winner of the Young Eye Award at the Leipzig Dok Festival.  BLUE SKY WHITE CLOUDS, is directed by German filmmaker Astrid Menzeland follows a canoe trip taken by the filmmaker and her grandmother who suffers from dementia; and DEAR MOTHER, I MEANT TO WRITE ABOUT DEATH, follows US-based journalist Siyi Chen, who learns that her physician mother has cancer and has been keeping it from her.

Other festival highlights include the award-winning ADIEU SAUVAGE from director Sergio Guataquira Sarmiento,himself a descendant of an almost extinct indigenous Columbian community, travels to meet with the Cacuas, to discover why they are suffering a wave of suicides and take an emotional x-ray of a neglected population; in the documentary KENYA, Mexican filmmaker Gisela Delgadillo follows a trans woman who witnessed a friend and fellow trans sex worker being murdered by a client, in a long battle for justice; and in the Closing Night film from award-winning Iranian director Dornaz HajihaLIKE FISH ON THE MOON, protective mother Haleh and her husband Amir must search for the reason their beloved 4 year-old son Ilya had suddenly stopped speaking.

In addition to short films screening before most feature films, two short film programs will be offered in 2023. Rendezvous’ IF YOU ASK ME short film line-up returns for its sixth year, showcasing emerging young filmmakers from across the country with mental health and/or addiction experiences. And BORN TO BE AN ARTIST is an anthology of short films by Workman Arts members.

In addition to this year’s robust film program, the festival includes its annual multidisciplinary exhibition. The 2023 exhibit – wherever you are is where i want to be – features innovative work made in various media, curated by noted programmer, curator, and critic Sarah-Tai Black. Film and visual art programming are complemented by two live performances, Upstairs, In Our Bedroom and Holler Rat. 

Rounding out the festival are two performance works that pull at the entwined threads of female identity and experience.  On October 28th the festival presents UPSTAIRS, IN OUR BEDROOM from the performance collective Same As Sister.  An interdisciplinary performance, talk, and demonstration, UPSTAIRS, IN OUR BEDROOM places Same As Sister’s experiences as female identical twins of colour next to the real-life story of outsider authors June and Jennifer Gibbons (a.k.a. The Silent Twins). This presentation is presented in partnership with Dancemakers.

On November 4th, acclaimed memoirist and performance artist Anya Liftig whose work has been shown at the MOMA and Tate Modern, uses her recently published memoir Holler Rat as a performance document, presenting a durational re-reading of her own biography – a journey of catalysts, calamities, artmaking, madness, and finally, catharsis.  This presentation is presented in partnership with FADO Performance Art.

Tickets for Rendezvous With Madness are available online and at all festival venues (open 1 hour before show times). All tickets are pay-what-you-wish and can be reserved in advance on the festival website with a credit card.

For complete listings, including short films screening with features and post-screening panels and Q&As, visit Workman Arts. All films have open captions. Details on films available for streaming November 6-12, 2023 available here.

Workman Arts is located at CAMH, at the McCain Centre for Complex Care and Recovery at 1025 Queen Street West and is entirely wheelchair accessible.  ASL interpretation will be provided for select programs. To learn more about accessibility initiatives at Rendezvous, visit

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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.