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Building Community Through Film

by | Jul 5, 2021

A screenshot of 4 people on a zoom panel discussion, all smiling.

For Mental Health week this year, Stella’s Place hosted our first film festival to raise awareness about mental health challenges, support the talented filmmakers and artists in our community, and bring people together in a time of isolation. From May 3 to May 7, Stella’s Place showed nine short films, four feature films, hosted three live panels with filmmakers, and facilitated three different workshops and presentations.

The event was made possible through the generosity of title sponsors Diane Blake and Stephen Smith. In a conversation with Diane following the film festival, she spoke about why films are such a valuable resource for talking about mental health:

“They say a picture tells a thousand words and I think that’s it. I wouldn’t read a book or a textbook about [mental health] but seeing a film that talks about it is easier to understand and follow. It just has a bigger impact.”

And the impact of the Get Reel film festival was significant, engaging over 200 community members in a week-long dialogue of healing, sharing and learning. Local and national media coverage created further ripples, spreading our message about the benefits and importance of a community-based, peer-integrated, holistic approach to mental health and recovery.

The goal of the Get Reel film festival was to celebrate community. Not only were many of the filmmakers and people featured in the films Stella’s Place community members, but the live viewings and panels also allowed participants, staff, and artists to talk with each other in real time, fostering that feeling of connectedness and learning together that many of us are missing right now. Diane agreed, saying that a film festival “builds community and it informs people and, also, through the shared experience, you do realize that you’re not alone, especially at this time.”

4 small purple texture boxes with statistics listed in each "5 days, 13 films, 200+ attendees, 693 streams"

We are deeply grateful to Diane Blake and Stephen Smith for their title sponsorship of the ‘Get Reel’ film festival, to Oulahen Team Realty and Earl Gorman for sponsoring individual films, to our audience members, donors and supporters, our Family Advisory Council, and to all of the filmmakers, panelists, staff, and volunteers who made this event possible.

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