Blabber’n’Smoke had a very pleasant afternoon at the official launch for this years Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival (SMHAFF) which takes place from 10th until the 31st October. It’s the tenth anniversary of this ground breaking festival which uses various artistic platforms (including theatre, film, spoken word, dance and music) to promote the importance of mental health issues for all in the community while drawing attention to the struggles and successes of people living with mental ill heath. With over 300 events across Scotland this year’s festival is the biggest yet with submissions for the International Film Competition reaching over 1,600 entries with the winners to be announced at the awards ceremony on 11th October at Glasgow’s CCA.
In terms of music the big news from this years festival is actually a play, the first commissioned by the festival, written by award winning playwright Alan Bissett. One Thinks Of It All Is A Dream is an account of Syd Barrett’s brief tenure in Pink Floyd before he was ousted due to his erratic behaviour. A brief preview I attended some month’s back had a scene with Barrett being taken by his band chums for a consultation with RD Laing, a plan scuppered by Syd refusing to leave their car. The play looks at the then attitudes to mental health and Barrett’s reputation thereafter. Was he a “casualty,” a victim of drug use, a sane man in an insane world? The play will be performed in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen throughout the festival while there is a 70th birthday tribute to Barrett hosted by music journalist Nicola Meighan which will feature the writer Alan Bisset, broadcaster and Barrett historian John Cavanagh and Barrett’s nephew Ian Barrett. A multimedia event it will feature discussion and insight into Barrett’s work along with video and artwork from Barrett.
Elsewhere Rick Redbeard and Admiral Fallow are appearing while there are various events across the country featuring local music groups and a showcase at Glasgow’s Barrowland in conjunction with Music On Prescription and Nordoff Robbins Scotland for unsigned bands.
As for the launch itself, aside from introductions to various strands of the festival, the attendees were entertained with a couple of songs from Rick Redbeard and were greatly amused by the excellent performance poet Harry Giles.
You can see a list of all festival events here