The Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival (SMHAF), led by the Mental Health Foundation, is one of the world’s largest social justice festivals. It reaches annual audiences of up to 25,000 people across Scotland, featuring film, music, performing arts, literature, visual arts and creative workshops.

Now in its 17th year, SMHAF calls on filmmakers to submit films addressing mental health and the various ways this can be understood or reflected. SMHAF is renowned for championing work by filmmakers with lived experience of mental health problems, exploring how film can challenge stigma and perceptions, and raising awareness about the links between inequalities and mental health.

We invite films that draw attention to personal stories and raise awareness about specific mental health problems, but we also welcome innovative and diverse perspectives on mental health and wellbeing. Films produced in collaboration with communities affected by mental health problems, and by first-time or aspiring filmmakers are also welcome.

Each year, our programme includes a diverse range of feature films, shorts programmes, Q&As, talks and workshops.

Screenings at SMHAF 2022 will take place in May 2023. Our festival hub will be the CCA: Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow, but we may also work with other cinemas and community venues across Scotland.

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 a panel, comprised of people with backgrounds in film, in mental health, or both. All winning films will be screened during the festival and honoured at our annual ceremony.

Previous award winners include: TOO ROUGH (Sean Lìonadh, 2022), JUDY VERSUS CAPITALISM (Mike Hoolboom, 2020), 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).

Work by first-time filmmakers, emerging directors, and community organisations are also regularly recognised at our awards ceremony. Please see our website for full details of past award winners.

ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA

1. Films of any length, genre or style are eligible for submission.

2. Only films completed after 1st January 2020 will be considered.

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

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

5. Films submitted must relate to mental health or wellbeing in a meaningful way or be made by a filmmaker with lived experience of mental health problems. If this is not clear from the film, overview or director’s statement, please explain why it is relevant to this festival in a brief covering letter to support your submission. Submissions from filmmakers with lived experience are particularly welcome.

CONDITIONS OF ENTRY

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

2. 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.

3. There is a standard submission fee of £7 for short films (under 40 minutes) and £10 for mid-length and feature films (over 40 minutes). 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 (www.mentalhealth.org.uk). Submission fees are non-refundable.

4. We are happy to waive the submission fee for filmmakers who would otherwise find it difficult to submit – no questions asked. Please get in touch at smhaf@mentalhealth.org.uk to request a waiver code.

5. If your film is selected, a high-quality digital screening copy of the film will be requested. The specification may 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. We cannot accept or assume responsibility in the event of loss or damage of screening materials.

6. Please make us aware of any descriptive subtitles, audio description files, and any other materials related to cinema accessibility that are/will be available for your film. Accessibility, including for d/Deaf and hard of hearing audiences, is important to us.

7. 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 marketing copy will be requested or may be downloaded from FilmFreeway.

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

Overall Rating
Quality
Value
Communication
Hospitality
Networking
  • The communication was excellent and the organisation and hospitality were great. I felt very welcomed and was able to network with some very interesting people.

    July 2022
  • Michelle Jones

    I had the best time at SMHAF. The festival team were amazing and done everything they could to get me to the festival in person. I had a great time in Glasgow attending a variety of screenings and connecting with amazing filmmakers. The SMHAF team done a great job in curating the films for the festival. Everyone's films were special in how the tackled the subject of mental health. I am grateful for the platform SMHAF gave to my film and honoured that we won the Human Rights award this year.

    June 2022
  • Leonardo Petralia

    Very Happy to participate con the SMHAF 2022, My film A Bag Full of Purses was part of the Official selection films. Really warm experience!!!

    June 2022
  • April Kelley

    So grateful to be apart of this wonderful and important film festival. Thank you for having us!

    June 2022
  • A wonderful festival. The communication was great and super friendly, the awards ceremony was really touching and as a filmmaker I felt well taken care of. The programme was powerful too. Really glad I submitted and was able to attend!

    May 2022