Mark Your Calendars— Announcing Mad in America’s First International Film Festival!


I’ve come to believe in the power of film not only to educate and spark dialogue, but also to catalyze personal transformation, as well as transformation of the sociopolitical landscape. Indeed, just as books like Anatomy of an Epidemic have changed the course of my life in the most profound of ways, so have films, especially the ones that have shaken the foundations of my inner framework, sometimes so much so that it seemed to demand reconfiguration. Films lead us to laughter and tears, to confusion and anger. Perhaps most importantly, films make us wonder, and question, and rethink the status quo, acting as reflective mirrors that show us who we are, or who we could be, in new and sometimes uncomfortable ways. I believe that good film is activism on the screen, and when used as a stimulus for public dialogue, it can significantly alter the course of an individual’s—or even a community’s—future.

We are excited to announce that from Thursday, October 9th through Sunday, October 12th, 2014, Mad in America will be hosting its first International Film Festival at the Regent Theatre in Arlington, Massachusetts, conveniently located just outside the city of Boston. Centered on the powerful medium of film, this unique event will bring together a collective of people from around the world who are committed to a shared cause: rethinking psychiatry and today’s mental health system.

The mission of Mad in America’s International Film Festival is rooted in a commitment to human rights and social justice, and our intention is to tell the evolving story of psychiatry over the past century, and to present films that question our current mental health system and highlight past and present-day alternatives.  This four-day event will host short- and feature-length films, live performances, and visual art, as well as individual speakers and panels of filmmakers, producers, film subjects, and leading international voices from the Psychiatric Survivor and Critical Psychiatry movements.

We want to encourage our readers to join us in Massachusetts this fall at the Festival, and to spread the word far and wide to those you know. I have to say, I’m already fired up about the thought of sharing a space with a collective of passionate and inspiring people who are committed to rethinking today’s mental health system, watching a wide array of films from the past sixty years and from around the world, listening to informative and inspirational speakers, and, of course, having lots of fun!

*Please note* that we are now welcoming short- and feature-length film submissions, and in particular, we encourage students to submit, as well as filmmakers from outside the United States. The official deadline for submissions is May 1st, with a late deadline of June 1st. Please spread the word to filmmakers you know and see Mad in America‘s International Film Festival website for more information about the film submission guidelines and process, or for information on how to become a Film Festival sponsor, which will help you or your organization reach an international audience of those interested in alternatives to the traditional mental health system.

We encourage you to ‘like’ us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for news and updates, and please sign up for newsletters through our website, which in the coming months will be populated with film trailers, relevant news items, interviews, information about Festival panels and speakers, and information about tickets, lodging, travel, and transportation.

We hope to see you there!


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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  1. Nice. Questioning the current system…

    Psychiatric diagnosis as a political device

    “Psychiatric services simply apply a diagnosis to whoever they are asked to deal with. The diagnosis signals that the situation can be re-interpreted according to a medical framework. This framework obliterates the memory that what psychiatric ‘treatment’ consists of is a particular social response to certain problematic behaviours. It conceals the fact that the response could be different.”

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  2. From anger to action.

    We’re not mad we are angry
    C4 screened Eleventh Hour’s “We’re not mad we’re angry” in 1986. This was a unique docu-drama which took two years to make with a group of current and former psychiatric patients who held full editorial control. Many of the actors in the drama sequences had been service users, others were involved in the editing and production process. Many of the survivors interviewed were activists such as; Jan Wallcraft who became Mindlink’s first co-ordinator, David Crepaz-Keay, who went onto managing Mental Health Media, then Head of Empowerment and Social Inclusion at Mental Health Foundation, Peter Campbell the founder of Survivor’s Speak Out’, Mike Lawson the first survivor vice-chair of National Mind (who got elected in favour of a psychiatrist who was so angry at not being elected he demanded a recount). Mike also designed one of the first Crisis Cards. It’s a seminal piece of work which you would never see now as criticism of services is more stifled and radical activism has been dumbed down by policy and recovery approaches.

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  3. Good luck with your project! I personally don’t like to learn from videos and stuff, I often prefer to read stuff, stop on points I don’t understand, skip ones I understand, etc. Though I am actually trying to learn listening to podcasts while trekking through woods. I personally often don’t have enough time or interest to watch videos about stuff though. In any case.. enough about my preferences. I’ve noticed many people like to watch videos from YouTube, etc, maybe it’s similar to watching TV, so this kind of an approach may work for many people.

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    • Thanks for the comment, Hermes! I too love to read, especially when I’m interested in learning about something. (And listening to podcasts while trekking through the woods sounds absolutely wonderful!) Film, for some people (not all, certainly!) can provide an added layer of emotionality, connection, and resonance, because it’s brings to life the things we read on the page. But as you said, not everyone feels this way, and that’s totally OK!


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    • Hi Carl,
      Yes– Off Label is a really powerful film (I was lucky enough to see it last year!). This is certainly on our list of films to explore. Thanks for the suggestion! And thanks, too, for all the important work you’re doing to change the relationship between the pharmaceutical industry and psychiatry, and to bring justice for Dan Markingson and Mary Weiss.

      In solidarity,

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  4. “…films make us wonder, and question, and rethink the status quo, acting as reflective mirrors that show us who we are, or who we could be, in new and sometimes uncomfortable ways.”

    Lovely statement, Laura, so true. I’ve been a cine-phile since I was a kid. I got my BA in film studies, so I spent college watching, writing about, and discussing films, which made college a great time for me. I’d say that my obsession with film and fascination with film language played a major role in shaping my reality. I see and experience life as if it were a film, which keeps it very interesting.

    Indeed, film is an incredibly powerful medium of art and communication, and I also believe it to always have the potential to drive significant mass change.

    I was tooling around on YouTube recently, looking for a good documentary, and I came upon this one that’s about global shift in human consciousness, outside of ‘the system.’ It’s not specifically about mental health and psychiatry, but it is about the origins of the Illuminati, and how it has caused us to be in heinous conflict with each other for the precise purpose of profit and power for these few individuals. It is very specific in spelling this out, and it reminded me so much of what is so often discussed on MIA, about being duped en masse by a purposely corrupt system.

    The second half is dedicated to personal empowerment by disengaging altogether from mainstream media, specifically from television, and turning to nature in order to know our own personal sense of creative power, outside and beyond the disabling illusions of the status quo. Kind of a ‘wake up call,’ really.

    I found this film to be very moving and direct, extremely accessible. Basically, it talks about getting as far away from the mainstream as possible, which, personally, I feel is a sound idea.

    Not sure if it’s appropriate for this film festival, although it might be, given how controversial it is. I can easily imagine a riveting discussion around mental health issues and social justice coming from this film.

    Either way, I hope its ok to share, here. I thought it was relevant, even though more general in scope than simply the mental health industry. Although, my feeling is that there is a strong connection, here.

    Pretty scary stuff, but it’s good to hear that people are finally waking up. Certainly instills hope for humanity and creating a new global society truly based on community compassion and world justice.

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    • Hi Alex,
      Thanks so much for this comment! This film you describe certainly sounds interesting (especially the second half), and I look forward to watching it. Here’s to that world you describe, one of community compassion and global justice…

      In solidarity,

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  5. I wish I could go to your film festival, but its a long way from Melbourne, Australia.

    Perhaps later we could arrange to get a package of films thru some appropriate local organization probably yet to be formed.

    The intelligent debate on this website is truly inspiring and I recommend it to my close friends.

    Congratulations to all of you.


    See ya in heaven

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    • Hi waydownunder,
      Once we’ve solidified the Festival program, it will certainly be viewable through the Film Festival website so that folks unable to make it to the event can see the lineup of films, and perhaps bring some of them into their own communities.


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  6. F.Y.I. The Stratford Festival is dedicating its 2014 play season to the theme of madness.
    There may be synergistic opportunities as the Festival has started to bring in guest speakers during the play season.

    “What excites me about this playbill is it contains plays in which the protagonists are driven to extraordinary places,” says Mr. Cimolino. “Extreme stakes lead to great drama.”

    “These plays explore minds that are driven out of balance by a variety of forces: love, war, poverty, age, sexuality. In today’s fast-paced global community, we are becoming ever more acutely aware of the consequences of such pressures. The issues behind them are interesting in themselves, but what they do to the human mind – to us – is ultimately the most fascinating thing. When the pressures of life become great enough, our minds give way to other realities. The result is often heartbreakingly tragic, but can also be a trigger for comedy.”

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  7. MindFreedom Ireland are delighted that Laura will be with us in Cork for the launch of our first documentary! We are so looking forward to meeting you Laura!

    “WOO HOO!!! the Launch of my ” MindFreedom Ireland” Documentary in The Bishopstown Bar on June 22nd is going to be a very exciting event!!
    This is the second Mental Health Documentary I’ve produced!!!
    I want to thank to Ian Downing and Sarah Faye for their fantastic camera work and also beautiful work on the first edit.
    I’m currently greatly expanding the film in length with extensive overall editing adding additional footage, photos, interviews from RTE, original music, slideshows etc I’ve been at it a few weeks solid but will be finished this week at last!! ” Jerry Omullane
    Also I’m honoured to have american writer and activist Laura Delano launch the film!!! “EXCITED!!!

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