Preview of Au Contraire Film Festival – October 16–19, 2018

In the great Au Contraire Film Festival (ACFF) tradition, boundaries will be broken, envelopes pushed and stigmas erased. This year’s 6th edition screens an incredible program that celebrates the creative talents of those living with mental illness. Dominika Dovgialo’s “Behind The I”, a British short that explores the question “If you could draw your mind, what would it look like?” serves as a lead-in to all screenings.


On Tuesday October 16th, the 2018 ACFF opening night is delighted to present: The Stories and Creative Genius of Mindy & Kevin. Featuring the 2018 Oscar winning Best Documentary Short “Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405. Frank Stiefel crafts a compelling portrait of Mindy Alper, a funny, insightful and extraordinary artist living with mental illness. Also in the opening night program is Hum; the intimate and music-fuelled bio of Irish musician Kevin Nolan who was diagnosed at 19 years old with schizoaffective disorder and began writing music to regain some of the freedom he’d lost due to his illness. Frank Stiefel will be in attendance for the post-screening Q&A, and the evening will wrap-up with the traditional ACFF opening night dessert reception.


“One in 5 Canadians experience mental distress and most hide something of themselves, just in case that revealing their diagnosis might threaten everything they hold dear.” states festival founder, Philip Silverberg. “All too regularly people are defined by their illness; through a program of stunning films, from a juried selection of International, Canadian and Quebec films, we’re excited to show and understand a different side to some incredible people.”


On Wednesday October 17th the “Soirée Lumière benefit evening for ACFF and Week-ends Champêtres sets its focus on “dance”. Featuring Un Court Historie de la Folie / A Short History of Madness. Directed by Isabelle Hayeur, the film travels through time using dance to chronicle the important moments in the treatment of mental illness in Quebec from the late 19th century to today. Among the selection of films we will première, from the Netherlands, F**king Socks; a short film about the difficulties of moving back in with family after being discharged from a mental institution.


Again this year, on Thursday 18th, the ACFF is proud to  “share the festival” with both RACOR, an Association that represents nearly a hundred community and alternative organizations involved in the mental health of Montrealers, and Chabad LIFELINE, a Montreal organization dedicated to helping individuals and families affected by addiction.  These international themed programs include films from the US, UK and Iceland including ,“The Date”, a world première from Montrealers Derreck Roemer & Rob Whitely.


ACFF 2018 wraps up on Friday 19th with two programs. At 1pm, it’s the annual FREE screening of short films for members of Donald Berman UP House and their friends in the community. This year’s program includes narrative fictions and animations that illuminate the subject of mental illness from multiple perspectives and through various genres. Highlights include Future Sick by Canadian director Aaron Martini, and Martin’s Hagge written by and starring Gordon Pinsent. At 3pm, the Human Resource Screening + Networking Reception, jointly sponsored by the John Molson School of Business and Groupe Entreprises Santè, focuses on films that will inspire discussion on the challenges facing companies, both large and small, as they confront the issues surrounding the mental health of their employees. The post-screening HR panel discussion will centre on the differing dimensions of mental illness and how it can be addressed.


The full festival schedule is here.

The Au Contraire Film Festival (Oct. 16–19)—which strives to dispel stereotypes and stigmas around mental illness through creative expression—is thrilled to kick off its 6th edition today with 2 exciting events at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts!


  • 10 AM
  • 300 students from local high schools will be in attendance (including Lauren Hill, Laurier Macdonald, Royal West, Sacred Heart, Trafalgar, and more!)
  • Canadian premiere of the short documentary Unstuck, about how a group of kids with OCD regained control of their lives
  • Post-screening Q&A with film director Chris Baier, moderated by Dr. Chandra Magill (Psychiatrist at the Montreal Children’s Hospital)


  • 7 PM
  • A presentation of 3 short films, including Frank Stiefel’s film Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405 (Best Documentary Short, 2018 Academy Awards), a compelling portrait of Mindy Alper, a funny, insightful and extraordinary artist living with mental illness
  • Post-screening Q&A with Oscar-winning director Frank Stiefel, joined via satellite by L.A. artist/film subject, Mindy Alper

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