RENDEZVOUS WITH MADNESS 25th Anniversary | November 3 - 11, 2017

RWM 2017

R.D. Laing, the subject of this year’s opening movie, was notorious for challenging psychiatric orthodoxy. Indeed, although Laing himself disavowed the term, the Scottish born specialist in schizophrenia was considered something of a revolutionary. If this is a fitting subject for the opening of the twenty-fifth edition of the Rendezvous With Madness Film Festival, it’s because, when it comes to understanding and treating mental disorders and promoting mental health, there is no progress without radical change. If there’s one thing this event has consistently sought and hopefully provided, it’s films that track the eruptions and shifts that are necessary to illuminating our understanding and experience of how the brain works. Or, in some cases, doesn’t. 

2017 Schedule

Official Venues:

Workman Theatre
651 Dufferin Street
(including De-Institute and De-Profundis)
St. Anne’s Anglican Church
270 Gladstone Avenue
Click HERE for the 2017 Catalogue + Official Schedule.


WEB_MTBN_stills_hr_drdr 1

Friday, November 3

MAD TO BE NORMAL 7:00pm | St Anne’s Church

(Robert Mullan, 2017, UK, 116 minutes, Canadian Premiere)
*ASL Interpreted and Closed Captioned


The radical Scottish ‘anti-psychiatrist’ Ronald David Laing once exhorted a patient admitted to his experimental treatment facility at Kingsley Hall in east London to ‘go mad.’ Laing, the subject of this compelling dramatic portrait directed and co-written by Robert Mullan, believed madness was “a perfectly rational adjustment to an insane world,” and encouraged those drawn to his treatment – which shunned medication but embraced LSD – to be themselves no matter what mental turbulence might ensue. It was a variation on the radical communal living experiments being conducted around the world during the ’60s, but at Kingsley Hall the revolution was of the mind. As Laing, the Scottish actor David Tennant (Dr. WhoBroadchurch) is mesmerizing: brilliant, arrogant, magnetic, infuriating, and maybe more than a little mad himself.

*Director Robert Mullan in attendance

*There will be a PAY-WHAT-YOU-CAN re-screening on Saturday, November 4th 11:00am at Workman Arts Theatre

 Co-presented with:


RWM 2017

Saturday, November 4

MAD TO BE NORMAL (2ND SCREENING) 11:00am| Workman Theatre

(Robert Mullan, 2017, UK, 116 minutes, Canadian Premiere)
*ASL Interpreted and Closed Captioned


 See description above.

 *Director Robert Mullan in attendance



Saturday, November 4

I AM ANOTHER YOU  2:00pm | Workman Theatre

(Nanfu Wang, USA, 2017, 80 minutes)


Having already dodged the Chinese state authorities during the making of her award-winning documentary Hooligan Sparrow, filmmaker Nanfu Wang enters another shadowy realm when she meets a charismatic young homeless man named Dylan in Florida. Fascinated by the Mormon-raised drifter’s decision to live on the street, Wang follows Dylan as he hitchhikes, scrounges, begs and maintains a state of perpetual motion. At first, Dylan strikes us as a kind of contemporary Kerouac character: a thoughtful and sensitive maverick who has turned his back on conventional society. But then something else emerges: is Dylan’s choice actually a perfectly reasonable response to living with madness? And is it really even a choice?

*Playing with An Other (Nils Caneele, Canada ,2016, 16 minutes)

Co-presented with:


RWM 2017

Saturday, November 4

Inside the House of Psychotic Women: A Conversation with Kier-La Janisse About Horror, Women, Madness and Horror Movies

5:00 – 6:30pm | Workman Theatre

“If watching horror films is cathartic because it provides a temporary feeling of control over the one unknown factor that can’t be controlled (death), then wouldn’t it make sense to assume a crazy person would find relief in onscreen histrionics?” So asks Kier-La Janisse in her fascinating work of self-analyzing pop cultural autobiography, House of Psychotic Women: An Autobiographical Topography of Female Neurosis in Horror and Exploitation Films. On one hand an unfailingly candid account of growing up the hard way in a dysfunctional family, the book illuminates the role horror and exploitation movies – especially those that focus on mad and deadly dangerous women – came to play in Janisse’s life as she sought both refuge and clarity in the dark and (often) forbidden world of cinematic horror. At once a fan’s tribute to an otherwise often maligned genre, a piercing and rigorous account of how horror reflects and distorts the subjective experience of female madness, and a fascinating breakdown of movies with such titles as The Legend of the Wolf Woman, Mermaid in a Manhole, Man, Woman and Beast and The Whip and the Body. What is the attraction of horror? More specifically, what does the genre hold by way of a reflection (or perversion) of the experience of growing up mad and female in today’s post-everything world? Join us for this fascinating conversation.

Kier-La Janisse is a Toronto-based critic, author, publisher and film festival programmer. She is the owner and editor-in-chief of Spectacular Optical publishing and author of Violent Professional: The Films of Luciano Rossi.

Co-presented with:  


RWM 2017

Saturday, November 4

The Transfiguration 7:00pm | Workman Theatre

(Michael O’Shea, USA, 2016, 97 minutes)


Like a lot of alienated teenagers, Milo (Eric Ruffin) has an overdeveloped identification with vampire lore. But unlike most, Milo, who lives alone with his PTSD-stricken Iraq vet brother, has taken that identification to an altogether unholy level. Michael O’Shea’s movie is a fascinating, disturbing and sometimes heartbreaking portrait of an inner city lost boy trying to make his way – via an encounter with an equally dissociated teenage girl (Chloe Levine) – back to ‘normality’. But the taste of blood is strong and the thirst impossible to quench. Will Milo find his way back to the daylight?

* Playing with Der Hexer (Maja Tschumi, Switzerland, 2016, 21minutes) and No Sound (Alex Cogswell, Canada, 2017, 3 minutes)

Co-presented with:

Toronto After Dark



Saturday, November 4

Inflame 9:30pm | Workman Theatre

(Ceylan Özgün Özçelik, Turkey, 2017, 94 minutes, Canadian Premiere)


An employee at a TV news station, Hasret (Algi Eke) has long believed that her parents were killed twenty years ago in a car accident. But then the dreams begin, and with them a gradual unravelling of Hasret’s sense of reality. Everything in her world – and especially the apartment where she has lived since childhood – starts to emanate intimations of another, hidden realm, where the shadow of conspiracy – enhanced by the constant pressure of government observation and censorship – begins to fall over Hasret’s perception of everything. From the outside, it looks like paranoia. From the inside, it’s reality assuming a new form.

*Playing with Pool Version (Gonzalo Escobar Mora, Bosnia/Herzegovina, 2016, 21 minutes) and Psyche (Emily Schooley, Canada, 2016, 2 minutes)

Co-presented with:

The Female Eye



Sunday, November 5

Frontiers: Documentary and Alternative Treatment              11:00am | Workman Theatre

(ASL Interpreted and Closed Captioned)

If one of the definitions of madness is doing the same thing over and expecting different results, then much of the history of mental health treatment qualifies as crazy. In this program of three short documentaries, new and radically different treatment models are experienced and assessed by the people whose opinion should matter most: those undergoing new methods of treatment. Whether it’s a shift toward independence and autonomy in Spain (Voices Against Stigma), a reclamation of indigenous practice (Mistissini Healing) or a first-person account of surviving one of the more dubious old models (Browndale), the films in this program offer a fascinating spectrum of perspectives, testimonies and alternatives to the old (and possibly mad) way of doing things.

VOICES AGAINST STIGMA (Marta Espar and Marc Parramon, Spain, 2017, 59 minutes, North American Premiere)


Mistissini Healing (Stephanie Vizi, Canada/Toronto, 2017, 23 minutes, World Premiere) 

Browndale (Thomas Norton, Canada/Toronto, 2017, 27 minutes, World Premiere)

*There will be a post-screening discussion with directors Stephanie Vizi (Mistissini Healing) and Thomas Norton (Browndale) in attendance 

Co-presented with:


Horizon Still 2

Sunday, November 5

Women on the Verge: Global Shorts on Women’s Experience 2:00pm | Workman Theatre

In this fascinating, surprising and provocative package of short dramatic films, we meet a number of women coping with madness and recovery. Their experience is as varied as the human brain itself, but what they share is the almost universal encounter with cultures that persist in treating and regarding women with mental health issues through the filter of prevailing gender attitudes. What can the way women living with mental health issues tell us about the larger cultural, political and institutional frameworks in which they struggle? Plenty. Here you’ll encounter women from around the world whose stories are both specific and all too universal. Our subjects may be anger (Horizon), unresolved family trauma (Ari), dementia (Piano Lessons), fractured personality (Fragments of May) and emerging from silence (La Chute), but the larger narrative here is madness and gender, and it’s a story that’s far, far from over.

Short films in this program:

HORIZON (Giancarlo Sanchez, 2016, the Netherlands, 49 minutes)

ARI (Clement Verneuil, 2016, Canada/Quebec, 13 minutes)

PIANO LESSONS (Marlene Goldman, 2017, Canada/Toronto, 13 minutes) *Director in attendance 

FRAGMENTS OF MAY (Maria Pia Fanigliulo, 2015, United Kingdom, 21 minutes)

LA CHUTE / THE FALL (Olivia Boudreau, 2017, Canada/Quebec, 24 minutes)

Co-presented with:


IYAM Claire De Lulune

Sunday, November 5

If You Ask Me 5:00 PM | Workman Theatre

If You Ask Me (IYAM) is a nation-wide film project created by Toronto’s Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival. In the spirit of Workman Arts, Rendezvous’s parent organisation and a pioneer in providing creative opportunities for people with mental health experiences, IYAM is a collection of videos made by young Canadians skillfully edited into a feature film who have something to share about their lives: the experience of living with mental health issues. How individual are these stories? As different as the people who created them, but united by an inspirational determination to tell others about how they live.

Please join us for the world premiere of this brand new omnibus film made by upwards of 20 young Canadians sharing their lived experiences with the world!

Background: the If You Ask Me project asked young people (13 – 30) from across Canada to create short videos about their own experience with mental health.

All contributors were asked these key questions:
What aspects of your mental health make you you?
What superpowers do you have because of your mental health experiences?

Project made possible thanks to generous support from the J.P. Bickell Foundation

Made in collaboration with NYAC – National Youth Advisory Council at CAMH.

*As with all screenings, limited Pay What You Can tickets are available at the door for young persons, seniors, under employed or persons on fixed incomes. No one turned away for lack of funds!

Screening will be followed by discussion with many of the contributing videomakers!

Co-presented with:



Sunday, November 5

Starless Dreams 7:00pm | Workman Theatre

(Mehrdad Oskouei, Iran, 2016, 76 minutes)


In a Tehran facility called the ‘Correction and Rehabilitation Centre’, teenage girls are kept from society for a variety of infractions: robbery, assault, addiction, prostitution, homelessness. These are the front lines of impoverishment, alienation and gender politics in contemporary Iranian society, and it’s no small miracle that filmmaker Mehrdad Oskouei not only arranged such intimate access to these troubled young women, but also got them to speak so freely and frankly about the conditions and circumstances that resulted in being shut away in the first place. At once inextricably rooted in specific cultural circumstances yet speaking to the universal experience of state institutionalization, Starless Dreams is a deeply revealing humane study of the limits of the permissible.

PRE-FILM RECEPTION with food and live music! 5:30-7 PM

Tickets $20-.

Please contact Afie Mardukhi 416 388.9314 or email

*Followed by a panel discussion in Farsi and English.

*Tickets for film only can be purchased via Rendezvous’ advance tickets here




Monday, November 6

The Blood is at the Doorstep  6:00pm | Workman Theatre

(Erik Ljung, USA, 2017, 97 minutes, International Premiere)


There seemed to be no logical reason: in 2014, a 31 year-old schizophrenic black man named Dontre Hamilton was shot fourteen times by Milwaukee police officer Christopher Manney. Apart from the fact Hamilton was bothering no one and at least initially unarmed – before he grabbed Manney’s nightstick – the shooting took place in the middle of the day in a public park. How could this possibly be explained? On one side, that of the stricken Hamilton family and much of Milwaukee’s black population, the incident was clearly evidence of systemic police racism. On the other, as police began to close ranks around Manney while public outrage rose, it was clearly a mental health issue: Hamilton was killed because he was in a state of dangerous mania. Everyone gets to speak their position in Eric Ljung’s urgently pertinent documentary, but the details finally matter much less than the larger implications. What does it say about race, mental health and societal sanity?

*Playing with Poison Tree Blues (Wade Patterson, USA, 2016, 12 minutes) and Kaleidoscope (Jaene Castrillon, Canada, 2017, 4 minutes)

*Followed by Skype Q & A with Director Erik Ljung and panel discussion with Dr Vicky Stergiopoulos (Chief Physician at CAMH) and other panelists (TBA)

Co-presented with:

JAYU Film Festival


RWM 2017

Monday, November 6

Godless 9:00pm | Workman Theatre

(Ralitza Petrova, Bulgaria/Denmark/France, 2016, 99 minutes)


Gana (Irena Ivanova in an award-winning performance) is a public health care worker charged with providing assistance the elderly. But Gana seems to need more help than she can provide, and subsidizes her own pharmaceutical habit by stealing from those dependent on her care. There’s an especially brisk underworld demand for pilfered ID cards, and Gana, along with her equally dependent boyfriend, has long ago crossed the line from nurse to criminal. Increasingly ground down by the bleakness of her world – a mountainous region of Bulgaria where grey is a primary color – Gana badly wants out. But how? And why is digging a hole for ourselves so much easier than crawling out of it?

*Playing with Jutta’s Atonement (Theresa Bonello, Canada, 2017, 19 minutes)-* Director in attendance and 1974 (Catherine Jones, Canada, 2017, 2 minutes)


WEB_Nobody Dies Here_03_300_F

Tuesday, November 7

Nobody Dies Here  6:00pm | Workman Theatre


(Hossein Kondori, Iran, 2016, 78 minutes, North American Premiere)
*ASL Interpreted and Closed Captioned

To fulfill his military training requirements, a soldier named Ashkan (Houman Seyedi) accepts a post at a remote border patrol station. Really not much more than a dilapidated stone ruin, the station is a study in neglect and isolation. But the worst part is the isolation: left for weeks at a time with nothing but his memories and fears to keep him company, Ashkan begins to wonder whether he’s losing his grip on reality. There’s a woman from the valley below who keeps turning up at the strangest times, and there are noises in the night which suggest Ashkan might not be as alone as it first appeared. He’s hearing voices, but from where? Outside the stone solitary cell, or inside his head? A powerful and cinematically suggestive study in the effects of prolonged solitude on the vulnerable mind, Nobody Dies Here speaks to anyone who has ever been left for too long in their own company.

*Playing with The Essence of Life (Behnam Darvishpour, Iran, 2017, 20 minutes) and Sands of Time (Ali Saeedi, Canada, 2016, 1 minute)

*Skype Q & A with Director Hossein Kondori to follow screening

Co-presented with:



WEB_Dr Feelgood

Tuesday, November 7

Dr. Feelgood  8:30pm | Workman Theatre

(Eve Marson, USA, 2016, 84 minutes, International Premiere)


Dr. William Hurwitz has always claimed simply to be doing the best he can to relieve the pain of his patients. And so it once appeared, as the Virginia physician took a radical stand when it came to pain relief: he believed strongly in prescribing opiods to those who otherwise suffered constantly, and he became so controversial for the practice he would up on 60 Minutes. But then the authorities began to investigate claims that Hurwitz was not only prescribing medications like Oxycontin (otherwise known as “Hillbilly Heroin”) in truly prodigious amounts, but that much of what he was prescribing was winding up back on the street. As the panic over prescription painkillers began to rise around the turn of millennium, Dr. Hurwitz found himself not only in an increasingly hot media spotlight, but facing up to twenty-five years in prison on charges of “large-scale drug trafficking”. He’s been called a pusher, a godsend, a murderer and a saviour. Healer or dealer? This is the question Marson asks in Dr. Feelgood. Ask the doctor and he’ll tell you “I feel like I’ve led a moral life and done good in the world.” Ask the doctor’s wife and she’ll tell you he’s “a fool.” See Dr. Feelgood and decide for yourself.

*Playing with Dignity of Risk (Prateek Bando and Jeremy Ley, Australia, 2016, 16 minutes) and I’ll Go On (Rick Miller, Canada, 2016, 1 minute)

*Follow by Skype Q & A with director Eve Marson and panel discussion (panelist TBA)

Co-presented with:


WEB_Pushback still Brian

Wednesday, November 8

Pushback 6:00pm | Workman Theatre

(Matthew Hayes, Canada, 2017, 90 minutes, World Premiere)


In Peterborough they call it ‘the warming room.’ It’s a place where the city’s homeless can go for food and shelter during the winter, and while it’s hardly lavish in its comforts – it’s basically a the basement room of a church – it’s better than nothing when nothing is all you have. Pushback, the remarkable new documentary by Peterborough filmmaker Matthew Hayes, follows a group of current and former clients of the waiting room as they make their way through daily lives: trying to keep fed, trying to keep sober, trying to stay alive from one day to another. Set during those six months of the year when the warming room isn’t open and refuge is scarce, the film provides an intimate, urgent and unblinking glimpse into the experience – sadly, a universal one – of facing each morning as yet another test of sanity and survival.

*Playing with Detroit Diamond (Hamoody Jaafar, USA, 2017, 23 minutes, World Premiere) *Director, producer and writer in attendance* and Goodbye, Hello (Rayven Martinez & Karyn Dwyer)

*Director Matthew Hayes, producer Jon Hedderwick and subjects in attendance  

Co-presented with:

Wellness Centre



Wednesday, November 8

Manic 9:00pm | Workman Theatre

(Kalina Bertin, Canada/USA, 84 minutes)


In her family’s archive of home movies, filmmaker Kalina Bertin finds traces of the potential solution to a mystery: why is mental illness so rampant among her siblings? And what does it have to do with her father, a charismatic but wildly unstable cult leader who spread both his word and his seed as far as the remote Caribbean island where the filmmaker was partly raised? Believing in his own divinity but oblivious to the impact of his calling on the ‘family’ that spreads through so many wives and children, Bertin’s father left a legacy of disorder that the filmmaker is determined to confront, understand and account for. Culled significantly from a wealth of home-made archival imagery – true to his ego, Bertin’s father was an inveterate documenter of his own mission – Manic doesn’t make order of chaos. But it does root the chaos firmly in the soil of a long unspoken-of family secret.

*Playing with Jade & Matteo (Myriam Guimond , Canada, 2015, 10 minutes) and Dearest Precious Mama (Grace Cherian, Canada, 2016, 2 minutes)

*Director Kalina Bertin in attendance

Co-presented with:



Thursday, November 9

I Am Not Afraid  6:00pm | Workman Theatre

(Fadi Hindash, Netherlands, 2017, 90 minutes, North American Premiere)


At 71, Dr. Frederik Polak leads a full life: he has friends, grandchildren, a loving wife and the wide respect of his psychiatric colleagues. So why then does he decide to assist one of his oldest patients – a woman who has struggled with mental health issues her entire – when she decides to commit suicide? As genial and generous as Dr. Polak appears on the outside, it says something about the power of Fadi Hindash’s I Am Not Afraid that we can’t help but wonder what’s going on behind the psychiatrist’s warmly paternal facade. At once intensely intimate and universal, the film focuses on the doctor’s intricately complicated relationship with his troubled patient, but it sees much more. The questions raised are put to every one of us.

*Playing with When Grey is a Colour (Marit Weerheijm, Netherlands, 2016, 24 minutes)

*Panel discussion to follow screening with Lucy Costa (Empowerment Council), Kevin Reel (Ethicist, U of T professor) and Dr Justine Dembo (U of T professor of psychiatry, Dying with Dignity)

Co-presented with:



Thursday, November 9

Ballad of Return 9:00pm | Workman Theatre

(Gustavo Rosa de Moura, Brazil, 2016, 98 minutes, Canadian Premiere)

OFFICIAL TRAILER (Turn english subtitles in lower right corner)

Equally frank and electrifying, Gustavo Rosa de Moura’s Ballad of Return is an intimate portrait of the toll taken on a marriage by mental illness. Is it ever possible that only the diagnosed experience it? What of the spouses and family members who must learn to live with it? Eduardo (João Miguel) is one of those people. On the day he returns from work to discover that his wife Julia (Marina Person) has attempted suicide, Eduardo is cast adrift. The closer he attempts to get to his wife, the more aggressively he tries to intervene on her depression, the more he suspects he might never really have known her in the first place. Which is naturally unnerving, but not quite as much as Eduardo’s creeping suspicion he no longer knows himself.

*Playing with Ophelia (Hollie Olenik, Canada, 2016, 8 minutes)
and Construction Breakdown (Helen Posno, Canada, 2016, 1 minute)

Co-presented with:



Friday, November 10

The Light of the Moon 6:00pm | Workman Theatre

(Jessica M. Thompson, USA, 2017, 90 minutes, Toronto Premiere)


For all this culture talks about rape, how often does it really measure its impact? It can mean one thing statistically, another legally, and yet another as a rather cheap motivating factor in a revenge movie. It is none of these things in Jessica M. Thompson’s riveting and illuminating The Light of the Moon, which simply asks the question: what’s it like to live as a victim? What turmoil goes on inside the minds and hearts of those who must live with the experience? Take, for instance, Bonnie (Stephanie Beatriz), a New York architect with a promising career, a loving and devoted boyfriend (Michael Stahl-David), and friends always up for a night of fun. It’s on one of these nights that everything changes. On her way home from a dance club, Bonnie is assaulted and left in an alley. And there the story really begins: the story of Bonnie’s struggle to balance and normalize her world, the story of the catastrophic impact of the incident on Bonnie’s sense of stability and self. She just wants to get past it – much, much easier said than done – but her new status as ‘victim of sexual assault’ puts her in a club she never, ever wanted to join.

*Playing with Liv (Anna Rollot, Uk, 2016, 9 minutes)
and The Neighborhood (Charles Revored , Canada, 2016, 1 minute)

*Panel discussion to follow screening with Jane Doe, Deb Singh (Toronto Rape Crisis Centre),  and other panelists (TBA)

Co-presented with:



WEB_The Girl2c The Mother and The Demons pressbild_9 photo Sara P Borgström

Friday, November 10

The Girl, the Mother and the Demons 9:00pm | Workman Theatre

(Suzanne Osten, Sweden, 2016, 92 minutes, Canadian Premiere)


It’s no small measure of the resilience of children that they can ‘normalize’ almost anything. It’s a question of survival for one thing: the child learns to accept in order to adapt and live on. In this sense, young Ti (Esther Quigley) is like most other kids. But Ti’s circumstances are making it harder to carry on as though all is ‘normal’: her mother (Maria Sundbom) suffers from episodes of mania and hears voices. They tell her what she should and should not being doing, and she listens to them with nearly the same respect and attention that Ti listens to her mother. Inspired by filmmaker Suzanne Osten’s own childhood experience, The Girl, the Mother and the Demons may seem to cover terrain many films on the family impact of mental illness have already crossed, but with a very significant and illuminating difference: it focuses on the enduring love of a prematurely grownup young girl for the only mother she knows, and the unconditional nature of that bond. Even as Ti comes to gradually accept that her mother is sick, dangerous and badly in need of help, she never lets go of the most important fact of her life: this is her mother. No matter what.

*Playing with My First Panic Attack (Michael Greco, Canada, 2016, 1 minute)

*Director Suzanne Osten in attendance

Generously supported by the Embassy of Sweden in Canada

Co-presented with:


WEB_Holden celebrates_courtesy of Granger Pictures

Saturday, November 11

Holden On  7:00pm | Workman Theatre

(Tamlin Hall, USA, 2017, 102 minutes)
*ASL Interpreted and Closed Captioned


On November 16, 1995, a nineteen year old La Grange, Georgia man named Holden Layfield took his life with a shotgun. The community was stunned: although he’d been demonstrating increasingly odd and unstable behaviour, Holden was a model of a nice, well-adjusted and mostly ‘normal’ kid. What could possibly have led to such a final and terrible decision? With his first feature, filmmaker Tamlin Hall makes a moving dramatic account of a young man living secretly with mental illness – Holden hears voices and habitually self-medicates – that is grounded in first-person experience: Hall was a schoolmate of the real Holden (played in the film by Matthew Fahey), and his film is at once a tribute, a study in unchecked mental disorder and a cry for understanding. For Holden, this was the only way it could end. For Hall, it’s question of options: without proper attention and support, what else was Holden to do?

*Playing with Penny Sucker (trailer(Erin Elders, UK, 2016, 11 minutes) and Butterfly Collector (Catherine Jones, Canada, 2016, 1 minute)

*Director Tamlin Hall in attendance

Co-presented with:

Canadian Sport Film Festival