The films from every year of Rendezvous with Madness have given a spotlight on the different kinds of mental illness. And this year, the fest a retrospective on how Canadian shorts have portrayed it during the past decades.
Breakdown is the oldest film in the retrospective, depicting the story of Ann, a woman way past the verge of a nervous breakdown. This is a PSA, and watching this made me lower my expectations on how it depicts Ann’s schizophrenic condition.
Although to be fair, Robert Campbell depicts the steps forward and back in how society and institutions treated people with mental illnesses. Nurses take Ann from classes that teach her weaving and art, which is absent in psych wards today.
The Agony of Jimmy Quinlan, in comparison, feels tougher than Breakdown in depicting certain groups. That group, specifically, are immigrants from Nova Scotia to Quebec who find themselves having an alcohol addiction.
The narration here feels suspect in guiding its viewers into the subjects’ groupthink but at least it gives us a sense of space. There are places where men like Quinlan can either recover or sink to lower depths.
Peg Campbell spent two years as a child care worker, and she puts that experience on film. She captures, through black and white photography, the streets of Vancouver during the 1980s and the teenagers reluctant doing sex work there.
Street Kids uses actors in this film but they’re convincing enough. As a clarification, it takes a minor in sociology to know that this is one branch of sex work. But obviously, these kids deserve to find legal work in any other industry, or, if their mindset boxes them into sex work, they deserve rights.
Fifteen minutes is a short running time for a film, but Nowhere Land captures 4000 years of Inuit life and mindset. It then crunches that down to the past seventy years of the settler government relocating Inuit people. It then shows the same people trying to repatriate through their lands.
Most of Nowhere Land are interviews of a family, specifically, of a couple recounting their past joys and current situation. The distance between their ancestral home and their new residence is four hours. But they justify the alienation they feel in being unable to live off of the land.
The last short in this retrospective is XO Rad Magical, a Chriss Off! music video. All it takes to express a state of mind are simple lines within a great aesthetic.
- Rated: NR
- Genre: documentary, Drama, History, Music, Short
- Release Date: 10/23/2020
- Directed by: Bonnie Ammaq, Christopher Gilbert Grant, Peg Campbell, Robert Anderson
- Starring: James Sage, Robert Anderson
- Produced by: Andy Thomson, Robert A. Duncan, Robert Anderson, Tom Daly
- Written by: Robert Anderson
- Studio: National Film Board of Canada (NFB)