The Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival, led by the Mental Health Foundation, is one of the world’s largest social justice festivals.

With annual attendances of over 25,000 at more than 300 events staged throughout Scotland, including film, performing arts, literature, music and visual arts, the festival aims to support the arts and to challenge preconceived ideas about mental health.

Now in its 15th year, the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival showcases its official selections and award winners to diverse audiences, and calls on all filmmakers, established or aspiring, to submit films addressing mental health.

We’re interested in films that explore mental health, and the various ways this term can be understood and reflected. The work can address specific mental health issues, but the festival is also keen to encourage innovative and diverse approaches. Films of any length, genre and style are eligible for submission.

Due to uncertainty around COVID-19, the film programme at the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival 2021 is planned to take place through a combination of in-person and online events. Films may therefore be selected for in-person screenings, online screenings, or both.


All films submitted to the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival will be eligible to win a prize at the International Film Awards.

The winning films will be selected by the International Film Awards jury, comprised of people with backgrounds in film, in mental health, or both. All winning films will be honoured at our annual ceremony and screening during the festival.

Previous award winners including THAT JOKE ISN’T FUNNY ANYMORE (Hannah Currie, 2019), EVELYN (Orlando Von Einsiedel, 2018), IRENE’S GHOST (Iain Cunningham, 2018), SUMMER, 1993 (Carla Simón, 2017), BECOMING CARY GRANT (Mark Kidel, 2017), and A FAMILY AFFAIR (Tom Fassaert, 2015). Please see our website for details of more past award winners. [].


1. Only films completed after 1st January 2018 are eligible.

2. Films previously submitted to the festival will not be considered.

3. Non-English language films must have English language subtitles.

4. Films submitted must feature mental health as one of their primary themes. If this is not clear from the overview or director statement, please provide a cover letter specifying the ways in which the film relates to mental health.

5. Films created by people who identify as having lived experience of mental health problems are particularly welcome.


1. Films must be submitted through FilmFreeway.

2. All submitted work must be original, and the submitter must either have festival rights to the film or permission to submit it.

3. All films submitted must have full festival clearance, including written consent/contracts where appropriate for individuals identifiable within the film (paid or unpaid), full musical clearance and third party clearance. It is also the responsibility of the person submitting the film to ensure that any necessary agreements are in place and valid prior to submission. By submitting a film, the person doing so guarantees that all required permissions have been obtained.

4. There is a submission fee of $8-$12 - this fee helps us to cover the cost of running the competition. The festival is led by the Mental Health Foundation, a registered charity in the UK (

5. Submission fees are non-refundable.

6. If you would find it difficult to pay the submission fee for any reason, please contact us at We will issue a waiver code to enable you to submit your film with no charge. In your email, please provide a brief synopsis of your film, which explains how it relates to mental health. Filmmakers who identify as having lived experience of mental health problems or are from marginalised or underrepresented communities are particularly encouraged to get in touch. Waiver codes are limited to one per submitter.

7. The festival cannot accept or assume responsibility in the event of loss or damage of screening materials.

8. Feature films submitted must not be publicly available online. This does not apply to short films.

9. If your film is selected, a high quality digital screening copy of the film will be requested. The format requested will vary depending on the exhibition venue/space and will be confirmed upon selection. We cannot pay for screening copy costs or shipping to the festival, but we will cover return.

10. If your film is selected, we may utilise clips, trailers, high resolution still images, and descriptive text, in order to publicise the festival and related events. Submission of an entry form is considered granting the festival permission to do so. Clips, images, and copy will be requested, or, where available, downloaded from FilmFreeway.

11. Decisions made by the programming team and International Film Awards jury are final. We are unable to provide feedback on individual submissions.

Overall Rating
  • Parachute Films

    We were thrilled to have DEAD SOULS' VACATION selected for the SMHAF 2021, which turned out to be one of the most rewarding festival experiences during the pandemic! Big thanks to the programmers!

    July 2021
  • Amin Maher

    A wonderful place! So honored to be part of you.

    June 2021
  • An honor to be part of this.

    June 2021
  • Incredible festival. SMHAF undertakes and shares powerful and important work.

    May 2021
  • Tomislav Zaja

    Absolutely great festival, warmly recommend!!!

    May 2021