On receiving tribute at the recent Screen Actor’s Guild of America Awards, Al Pacino humbly summarized his more than fifty-year career of controversial acting roles by admitting, “Why am I not in rehab?”
For Lisa Brown, Co-founder and Director of the Rendezvous With Madness Film Festival, that quote deeply resonated and pinched a memory nerve, “I had a history of severe anxiety and saturated myself with alcohol. I don’t have a particular belief in God or a religion that I can find a sanctuary in and I went to the edge….”
Selling the public on and removing the stigma surrounding such film titles as My Suicide and So You’re Going Crazy? has presented serious challenges for Lisa and her devoted team, but she confidently emphasized that “the Festival has developed itself. Our sole mission is to normalize mental illness, not romanticize it. By revealing the facts and exploring its mythology, we can give people a forum and permission to talk about it.”
Originating as a theatre company in 1987, Rendezvous With Madness, in its 18th year, has evolved into a vibrant and most necessary film festival, telling the stories of people experiencing mental health problems such as alcohol addiction, depression, schizophrenia and suicide. Topical panel discussions, featuring mental health professionals and Canadian and international film makers are also presented.
Lisa’s lasting legacy for the Festival would be “that all the films are celebratory and hopeful. What is therapeutic for me is talking with people about mental illness. The world is so crazy, we all need a little help.”
Respectfully, perhaps we should take solace in the comforting lyric of Jimmy Buffett’s song Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes: “If we weren’t all crazy, we’d all go insane.”
The Rendezvous With Madness Film Festival continues until November 13. For details go to www.rendezvouswithmadness.com