October 10 – 20, 2019

After 25 years as the first and largest mental health film festival in the world, in 2018 Rendezvous with Madness (RWM) launched into their next 25 years as a multidisciplinary arts festival adding live performance, music and visual art to their established mix of provocative films. Today the festival is thrilled to announce the full programming line-up for its 27th edition, running from October 10 – 20, 2019 and showcasing 14 feature film and short programs from around the globe, 4 live performance pieces, a visual arts exhibition, AND the addition of a new event, Laughter vs. The Universe – a one night only comedy showcase designed to remind us that sometimes laughter truly is the best medicine.

This important and provocative festival uses art to investigate and illuminate the realities and mythologies surrounding mental illness and addiction, and in that spirit, this year, Rendezvous with Madness introduces the unifying theme and discussion prompt #GetMad, inviting audiences, artists – and anyone who wants to join the conversation – to share what ‘mad’ means to them

Extending the conversation, almost all screening events this year will be followed by compelling and urgent talks with filmmakers and experts in a programmed discussion series entitled #GetMad: Join the Conversation.

“In 2019 we are inviting our audiences and community to #GetMad and to talk about what that means to them,” says Workman Arts’ Executive Artistic Director, Kelly Straughan. “The word mad and the language of madness has long been pejorative. #GetMad has a multiplicity of meanings to us – we can be angry about a lack of empathy towards mental illness, we can celebrate the complexity of our emotional lives, we can reclaim the idea of madness and champion the arts as a means to enlightenment and understanding. #GetMad is a call to action reminding us that sharing stories is a powerful tool against isolation, stigma, and discrimination  and we invite everyone to #GetMad on social media and share their stories of resilience alongside us as part of the celebration of World Mental Health Day and the ongoing conversations we’ll be having at the festival this year.”

“Every day we wake up with a little more knowledge about addiction and mental health, but each
day also brings another wave of resistance,” adds Rendezvous Film Program Director Geoff
Pevere. “Nothing panics ignorance or prejudice more than facts or passion. Of course, there are
many sides to all stories, and for nearly thirty years the Rendezvous with Madness Festival has
been scouring the globe for the best, most current, controversial and – most important – most
likely to keep us talking. This year is no exception.”

The 2019 festival kicks off on October 10th – World Mental Health Day – with a special
screening of the East Coast made documentary Conviction by filmmakers Nance Ackerman,
Ariella Pahlke, and Teresa MacInnes. Women have become the highest growing prison
population in the world. In Conviction, a team of three documentary filmmakers gain access to a
correctional facility in Nova Scotia to tackle the crisis from within. Instead of simply conducting
interviews, the filmmakers collaborated with women in the facility to create a deeply personal
documentary in which these women share their experiences with institutionalization and
unapologetically address the ineptitude of incarceration. Working alongside the Elizabeth Fry
Society and the filmmakers, the women envision a better alternative to a failing criminal justice
system – to build communities instead of prisons.

The opening night film will unspool this year at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema and will be
followed by the festival’s first panel discussion with filmmaker Ariella Pahlke and subject Tanya C
Bignell of Conviction and representatives from the Elizabeth Fry Society. Moderated by Orev
Reena Katz haKohenet, a Mental Health Correctional Chaplain, they will discuss the various
realities and difficulties for women living with mental health issues within a correctional facility and
ask why women have become the fastest growing segment of the prison system in Canada.





Other film highlights in 2019 include the Canadian Premiere of the Sundance Film Festival selected documentary Bedlam which looks at the crisis of mental health deinstitutionalization in the US and will be followed by a rigourous panel discussion about the issue on both sides of the border; César nominated French filmmaker (who began her career as a psycho-sociologist) Fabienne Godet’s Nos Vies Formidables/Our Wonderful Lives, a naturalistic drama about a 30-something woman who lives with addiction and enrolls in a rehab facility in the French countryside; Chaos (Golden Leopard Award-winner at Locarno 2018) is a documentary from acclaimed Syrian director Sara Hattahi that looks at three women (including herself) in three cities to examine the impact of war on the human spirit; in My Soul Drifts Light upon a Sea of Trees Dutch documentary director Heinrich Dahms follows the story of Zen Buddhist Itettsu Nemoto who makes it his life’s work to support individuals struggling with depression and suicidal ideation after losing an uncle and two friends to suicide; documentary director Iain Cunningham goes on a 6-year journey to learn about a mother whom he never really knew and the truth of how she died in the acclaimed Irene’s Ghost which first premiered at the BFI London Film Festival; and celebrated Iranian director Bahman Farmanara directs and stars in a family drama meets homage to Iranian artists in Tale of The Sea, the story of a writer who suffers a breakdown after witnessing a violent murder.

Short films will screen alongside many features this year and for its third consecutive year, If You Ask Me (IYAM) returns to the festival, supporting emerging filmmakers with mental health and/or addiction experiences to create new work. This constantly evolving program has grown to follow the needs of the filmmakers and RWM is very excited to be showing four new short films in 2019 by emerging artists Saba Akhtar, Julianne Ess, Erum Khan and James Knott.

The live performance program begins October 10 at the Dead End Studio with an interdisciplinary, site-specific production of 2019 Cayle Chernin Award finalist Natalie Liconti’s The Life and Death of Fred Herko, about the 1964 suicide death of queer dancer Fred Herko and directed by Storefront Theatre’s Claire Burns. The 2019 live performance program also includes the dance piece PSYCHOSIS choreographed by acclaimed Caribbean-Canadian dancer/choreographer Ronald Taylor; Grace Thompson (RARE Theatre’s Welcome To My Underworld) writes and directs In This House at Workman Arts Theatre, a play about four millennials struggling with loneliness and depression as they try to find their way in the world; and Lisa Anita Wegner and collaborator Scott White bring an immersive theatrical experience exploring the impact of celebrity worship in Intangible Adorations at the Workman Arts Chapel.

The 2019 visual arts exhibit curated by Claudette Abrams – Making Mad: How Expressions of
Vulnerability Connect Us – will run for the duration of the festival at the Toronto Media Arts
Centre. Exploring the ways depictions of vulnerability in their work resonate on a human scale,
the exhibit will feature work from filmmaker and photographer Alison Crouse; an interactive VR installation by the collaborative team of Ben McCarthy and SpekWork studio; artist, photographer, and architect Esmond Lee; artist Peter Dillman; media artist Sarah Trad; and large-scale sculptures by artist Véronique Valliéres that the audience is encouraged to interact with.

At the end of the festival and new this year, on Saturday, October 9th the festival presents
Laughter vs. The Universe, a comedy showcase at Comedy Bar hosted by Christopher Davidson and headlined by 2018 Canadian Comedy Breakout Artist award-winner and 2018 Sirius XM Top Comic Chanty Marostica. Maristoca was the recipient of the 2019 Canadian Comedy Award for Album of the Year and nominated for the 2019 Juno Award for Comedy Album of the Year for their debut album The Chanty Show (which also hit #1 on iTunes) and as a trans person in the comedy space, is an absolute vanguard in their field.

Tickets for Rendezvous with Madness events go on sale September 9. Advance tickets for all events are “pay as you wish” and offered for $12, $15, or $20 online at or by phone (416-583-4339 Mon-Fri 10am-5pm). Tickets will also be available for purchase at the venue starting 1 hour prior to start time on a “pay what you wish” basis with a minimum suggested of $12. The opening night film program is $15 for the film and performances only; $40 with pre-film reception including food and beverage. This year passes are also available for $44 for four events, $80 for eight events, and $100 for unlimited single entry to all events. Matinee screenings at CAMH are by donation.

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