Inaugural Chicago Mental Health Film Showcase Launches on May 23-24

In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, Northwestern University’s Pritzker Pucker Studio Lab launches the Chicago Mental Health Film Showcase – two days of films, conversations, and a creative film workshop. Screenings take place on Northwestern’s Evanston campus at Block Cinema and in Annie May Swift Hall on Thur, May 23 and Fri, May 24. 

The three featured films include the award-winning hybrid documentary Island of the Hungry Ghosts which addresses migration and the limits of therapy; a hard-hitting feminist analysis of Hollywood’s cinematic language in Brainwashed: Sex-Camera-Power; and the Midwest premiere of the award-winning new French fiction film The Rapture (Le Ravissement). Ranging from migration and gendered cinematic shot design to motherhood, the topics of the selected films vary greatly, yet are tied together by positioning questions of mental health in the context of greater societal and cultural conditions and pressures. 

All film screenings and discussions are free and open to the public.

More info at: https://studiolab.northwestern.edu/events/


Thursday, May 23

Block Cinema, 7pm

Island of the Hungry Ghosts

(2018) Germany, UK, Australia, 98 min

Director & Writer: Gabrielle Brady

On Christmas Island, an idyllic yet isolated island in the Indian Ocean, millions of land crabs migrate annually from the jungle to the sea. The same jungle hides a high-security Australian detention center where thousands of asylum seekers have been locked away indefinitely. Their only connection to the outside world is trauma counsellor Poh Lin Lee, who lives on the island with her family. As Poh attempts to provide support through individual therapy sessions, conditions for the detainees remain unbearable. In this award-winning hybrid documentary, Australian director Gabrielle Brady masterfully interweaves the detainees’ stories with the beauty of the island’s natural world, intimate family moments, and the local community’s “hungry ghost” rituals for the spirits of those who died on the island without a burial. Beautifully rendered and contemplative in tone, Island of the Hungry Ghosts makes us feel and think about belonging, isolation, and migration, while considering the limits of therapy during a time of crisis. Followed by a post-screening discussion.

Friday, May 24

Annie May Swift Hall

Meeting at the Site of Memory

Creative workshop with narrative therapist and film consultant Poh Lin Lee, who is prominently featured in Island of the Hungry Ghosts. Registration for Northwestern University students only.

Friday, May 24

Annie May Swift Hall Auditorium, 3:30pm

Brainwashed: Sex-Camera-Power

(2022), USA, 107 min

Dir: Nina Menkes

Co-presented by Northwestern University’s Women Filmmaker’s Alliance (NUWFA)

In this hard-hitting docu-essay, celebrated independent fiction filmmaker Nina Menkes explores the sexual politics of cinematic shot design. Using clips from hundreds of movies – from Metropolis to Vertigo to Phantom Thread – Menkes convincingly makes the argument that patriarchal narrative codes hide within “classic” set-ups and camera angles and demonstrates how women are frequently displayed as objects. Building on Laura Mulvey’s essential writings on the male gaze, Menkes shows how these embedded messages intersect with the twin epidemics of sexual abuse and assault, as well as employment discrimination against women, especially in the film industry. The film features interviews with Laura Mulvey, Julie Dash, Penelope Spheeris, Charlyne Yi, Joey Soloway, Catherine Hardwicke, Iyabo Kwayana, Eliza Hittman, and Rosanna Arquette among others. After extensive festival play at Sundance, Berlin, IDFA, and more, Brainwashed: Sex-Camera-Power was included in numerous “Ten Best of the Year” lists, including The Guardian, Sight & Sound, Alliance of Women Film Journalists, Roger Ebert, NPR, and many more. Followed by. a post-screening discussion.

Friday, May 24

Block Cinema, 7pm

The Rapture (Le Ravissement) – regional premiere

(2023), France, 97 min

Dir: Iris Kaltenbäck

Lydia (Hafsia Herzi), a caring young midwife, drifts through Paris after the relationship with her boyfriend falls apart. When her best friendSalomé (Nina Meurisse) becomes pregnant, Lydia spirals out of control, relentlessly throwing herself into her work at the maternity ward, while secretly obsessing over a one-night stand with Milos (Alexis Manenti). After taking worrisome risks with the delivery of Salomé’s baby, Lydia helps out by babysitting while simultaneously spinning a self-destructive web of lies that has dire consequences. Anchored by a beautifully subtle yet powerful performance by Hafsia Herzi, The Rapture combines the tense, suspenseful elements of a procedural with an intimate view of Lydia’s solitary existence and her ultimate unraveling. Far from didactic, the film reveals complex feelings and expectations about motherhood, romantic relationships, and friendship that bear down on Lydia. The first feature film by French director Iris Kaltenbäck, The Rapture (Le Ravissement) premiered at the 2023 Cannes Critics’ Week where it won the Prix SACD. Followed by a post-screening discussion. 

About the Pritzker Pucker Studio Lab:

Northwestern University’s Pritzker Pucker Studio Lab – Promotion of Mental Health via Cinematic Arts creatively examines representations of mental illness and health on screen and supports students in the production of original media art works that challenge stereotypes. Student filmmakers, faculty, visiting artists, and the wider public engage with the studio lab in a variety of ways – from the production of new works and courses to public events such as the Chicago Mental Health Film Showcase. We strive to tackle complex topics, destigmatize mental illness, and promote healing through creative innovation and inquiry.


Block Cinema

Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art

Northwestern University

40 Arts Circle Drive

Evanston, Illinois 60208 

Annie May Swift Hall

Northwestern University

1920 Campus Drive

Evanston, Illinois 60208 

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