Singapore’s inner demons on display at mental health film fest

A scene from Guang, one of the films showing at the festival. Image: YouTube
A scene from Guang, one of the films showing at the festival. Image: YouTube

A film festival addressing the stigma of mental health issues in Singapore returns later this month to touch on more themes such as eating disorders and addiction. 

The Singapore Mental Health Film Festival will start Feb. 27 at the National Gallery and offer four days of screenings, panel discussions, and therapeutic activities including pottery. 

One of 11 films lined up is Hollywood production Beautiful Boy, which tells the story of a man (Steve Carell) coping with the drug addiction of his teenage son (Timothee Chalamet). The screening follows a panel discussion on addiction and what loved ones can do to help. 

In Guang, an autistic Malaysian man (Kyo Chen) embarks on a dual quest to look for a job while also finding glass objects. After the screening, viewers can join panelists to discuss the challenges faced by those caring for individuals with autism.

On opening day, the winning entry of a short film competition for young filmmakers will be shown.

Other panel discussions will cover suicide, eating disorders, trauma survivors, childhood trauma and dementia. Major depressive disorders, alcohol abuse and obsessive-compulsive disorder are among the top mental health issues in the city-state, according to a 2016 study.

Panelists include representatives from the Institute of Mental Health and the Singapore Association for Mental Health. This year marks its second edition.

Other, more physical and cathartic activities will include clay-making, percussive dance and sound healing. They aim to help individuals “raise their emotional and mental resilience,” according to the organizer. 

The Singapore Mental Health Film Festival is organized by The Breathe Movement, a yoga nonprofit targeting those affected by trauma and mental health issues, and is supported by the National Youth Council. 

Tickets for the various festival programs are priced from S$15 each. 

Singapore Mental Health Film Festival
National Gallery Singapore
Feb. 27 – March 1

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