For far too long, mental health has been misrepresented in film - often in violent, stigmatising, and hopeless ways. Kua tae te wā! It's time for a new lens. Join us at Aotearoa's first ever mental health film festival, where we will shift perspectives, one frame at a time.

The Aotearoa Mental Health Film Festival (AMHFF) isn't just a film festival; it's a platform for empathy and understanding, presenting lived experiences through a new, hopeful, and honest lens.

Aotearoa's first ever mental health film festival, hosted by the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand, will be running screenings across the motu/New Zealand throughout November and December of 2023, with panel discussions at each event.

Please ensure you download and read the AMHFF film submission requirements and media guidelines before submitting. Along with content guidelines, the film requirements highlight a list of recommended themes.

We look forward to having you be part of the Aotearoa Mental Health Film Festival. By showcasing narratives of hope and stories that defy stereotypes, together we will combat the stigma that stops people from seeing help when they need it most.

All films submitted to the Aotearoa Mental Health Film Festival will be eligible to win an award and its corresponding prize. These awards and corresponding prizes are to be confirmed.


• All submitted work must be original with production after 2019 and the submitter must either have festival rights to the film or permission to submit it.

• All submissions must comply with the FilmFreeway Terms of Service for Filmmakers.

• Without limiting the above, all films submitted must have full festival clearance, including all necessary permissions, releases, authorisations, waivers, and consents for each individual identifiable within the film (paid or unpaid), full musical clearance (including performer’s rights), together with any other necessary third-party clearances, authorisations and consents (collectively, the Consents).

• The filmmaker is responsible for ensuring that all Consents are in place prior to submission, and will remain valid for the duration of the Film Festival and for a reasonable period thereafter. Consents must also provide the MHF with the right to use clips of the films in order to publicise the festival. By submitting a film, the filmmaker warrants that all required Consents have been obtained.

• We may utilise clips of the films to be screened in order to publicise the festival. Submission of an entry form is considered granting the festival permission to do so.

• Films must be no less than 2 minutes and no longer than 20 minutes in length.

• Please ensure that non-English language films have English language subtitles.

• Films previously submitted to other festivals will be considered.

• Films can be any genre, including documentary and animation.


• The selection panel will be comprised of people with backgrounds in film, in mental health, or with living and lived experience of mental illness or distress.

• The decisions of the panel are final. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide feedback on all films that are submitted.

• Selected films MUST provide a MP4 version good quality and a Digital Cinema Package (DCP) in order to be screened.


The Mental Health Foundation has a duty of care to our audience and must ensure that films shown as part of the Aotearoa Mental Health Film Festival don’t increase suicide risk, cause harm or perpetuate unhelpful stereotypes about people who experience mental distress or illness.

The following content guidelines have been designed in consultation with people with lived experience, suicide prevention experts and health promotion professionals.

Before submitting your film, you are confirming it adheres to the following criteria:

• This film includes trigger warnings and helplines where appropriate

• This film does not stigmatise mental illness, suicidal thoughts or actions, or suicide loss.

• This film does not depict any explicit suicide scenes or discussion of specific suicide methods and/or location.

• This film does not present suicide as an inevitable outcome to a problem.

• This film does not romanticise or trivialise suicide, or the effect of suicide.

• The film does not simplify the reasons for a suicide or the circumstances that may have led to a suicide.

• This film does not depict anyone engaging in explicit self-harm.

• This film does not portray people experiencing mental distress or illness as perpetrators of explicit violence or crime.

• The film does not depict people living with mental distress or illness as evil or dangerous.

• This film does not over-dramatize or inaccurately portray a specific mental illness e.g. bipolar, schizophrenia.


The selection panel are particular interested in the following themes for the Aotearoa Mental Health Film Festival:

• Te Whare Tapa Whā

• The Five Ways to Wellbeing

• Suicide prevention

• Resilience and recovery

• Finding hope

• Managing distress

• Meaning & purpose

• Mental health connection to nature

• Mental health impacts/recovery from adversity or natural disaster

• Learning to live with or living well with a mental health condition

• Learning to live with suicide loss

• Te Ao Māori