A black and white image of two feet standing on the edge of a rocky terrace. They are surrounded by sand.
back home opens this year's Rendezvous with Madness Festival | Photo by Nisha Platzer

Rendezvous with Madness Docs Spark Conversations About Mental Health

Festival runs Oct. 27 to Nov. 5

8 mins read

Fall is in the air, and with the ups and downs of the season comes changes in people’s well-being. This year’s Rendezvous with Madness Festival is filled with art, workshops, and 12 documentary films. The works allow artists to be moved and inspired to create art themselves while engaging with important issues related to mental health. The festival gave audiences a taste of what to expect earlier this month with its pre-festival premiere of Attila on World Mental Health Day, and the line-up continues the conversation about mental health. From experimental docs like The Dependents and back home, and eye opening films like Kenya and Like a Fish on The Moon, there is a story for everyone to indulge in. As well as an exhibition wherever you are is where i want to be, which will be featured from October 5th-31st. Come by the festival to explore these pieces of work. It is definitely worth your while.

Here are some documentary recommendations for this year’s Rendezvous with Madness Festival.

back home

Friday, Oct. 27 at 6:30pm

The memorable film back home is a feature length documentary set to screen as the opening night film for Rendezvous with Madness. Originally showcased at VIFF 2022, back home follows director Nisha Platzer’s journey of remembering the loss of her big brother, Josh. After 20 years, she reconnects with Josh’s friends and their family members, who were like a second family to him. They help Plazter learn more about him due to her limited recollection caused by their age gap. Platzer does a beautiful job adding poetic and experimental elements in her film through the use of 16mm and Super8 footage. It captures the story of grief and healing, and may strongly connect with those who have lost an important person suddenly or unexpectedly. (Note: the film deals with issues related to suicide.) Read more about back home here in this review.


Because We Have Each Other

Thursday, Nov. 2 at 8:30pm

Get your heart strings pulled by the touching slice of life doc Because We Have Each Other as award-winning director Sari Braithwaite invites you to know the Barnes/Sharrock family. Braithwaite reveals the struggles of keeping up with a neurodivergent family and she shares what it’s like to manage the financial situation of their family of seven. However, through all their hardships, they still love and support each other unconditionally. Braithwaite captures their story through gorgeous vérité footage and shots of the natural world. She also ensures each family member shares their own point of view to highlight the many ups and downs. This allows you to see through the lenses of each member of this family. If you are looking for something heartfelt and family oriented this may be the perfect doc for you. Read more about Because we Have Each Other here.


Adieu Sauvage

Saturday, Oct. 28 at 7:30pm

A complex documentary with many layers of meaning, Belgium-based director Sergio Guataquira Sarmiento, investigates why the Indigenous peoples in his home country, Colombia, are having an increase of suicides. All the while, he tries to gain clarity from the confusion of his own heritage.  Adieu Sauvage is displayed as a black and white film to capture the true essence of the jungle and his journey. The documentary allows us to see a side of life in the Wacara community, since Sarmiento is led by Laureano Gallego Lopez, a Spanish-speaking member of the Cacua tribe throughout the film. David Garcia, the cinematographer, records the breathtaking and powerful landscapes of the country. Find out more about Sarmiento’s journey during the Rendezvous with Madness festival, but in the meantime, learn more about it in this interview from the festival circuit.


Blue Sky White Clouds

Friday, Nov. 3 at 6:00pm

Paddle through the film Blue Sky White Clouds by German filmmaker Astrid Menzel. This award-winning documentary showcases the story of Menzel, her brother, and grandmother on a 10-day canoe trip. After mourning the death of her grandfather E.O., Menzel decides to plan and organize a trip with her grandmother who has slow progressing dementia.  She brings her camera throughout their journey, and discovers the amount of patience that is needed to help her grandmother. While it may be a hard and confusing time for the family, this doc is a feel good film that highlights what it is like to be there for the people you care about. After the screening of Blue Sky White Clouds, stick around for the conversation panel with Astrid Menzel to learn more about her emotional documentary. To learn more about Menzel’s film, here is an interview from DOK Spotters Leipzig.


The Dependents

Saturday, Nov. 4 at 7:30pm

Experience the unique family life of Canadian-Argentinian filmmaker Sofia Brockenshire in her film The Dependents.  The film, which won Best Canadian Feature at RIDM, screens as the closing night of Rendezvous with Madness. The documentary looks back at her family traveling place to place for her father’s career as an immigration officer. While her family had the freedom to travel and live in different countries, the people her father worked often had their fates in his hands. Brockenshire tells us this story through a nonlinear way by using her family’s archival footage and audio, as well as including stories from her dads diary, which he took with him all over the world. The Dependents was shot, edited and directed by Brockenshire herself which gave her the ability to represent her film like the memories in her life. Stay tuned for our interview with director Sofia Brockenridge!

Rendezvous with Madness runs October 25 to November 5.

Alejandra De La Huerta is currently completing her studies at York University as a Media Arts student. She is with POV Magazine as a field placement student to learn more about documentaries, directors and the film industry. Alejandra has a strong passion for sharing stories on environmental issues and social justice and plans to make her own documentaries in the future. She enjoys photography and using 360 video to capture narratives through a new lens.

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