A slew of short films dealing with complex mental health issues, the mandate of psychiatrists and the role of the family won awards instituted by the Schizophrenia Research Foundation (SCARF) here on Sunday.

Actor-filmmaker Suhasini Maniratnam presented the awards and cash prizes at the conclusion of the “Frame of Mind” international film festival on mental health 2010.

The award for the best short film was given to “Pages of Life,” directed by Tushar Bachal and submitted to the competition section by Pune-based Chaitanya Mental Health Care Centre.

Rony George, who produced the film that deals with the onset of schizophrenia and the impact on the family, accepted the award. Joint second prize was given to “Prerana,” a film focusing on the support role of the family and directed by Surya Ramachandran and Vignesh Raja and “Payanam,” a film portraying dimensions of dementia and directed by A.R. Subburaj.

“Ghost in My House/Mind” directed by Manikandan bagged third prize while “Ishana” directed by K. Mathikumar took the fourth prize. The jury also announced a special mention for “My Son” directed by Kabil Dev.

Presenting the awards, Ms. Suhasini underscored the educative role and potential of cinema and television. “Films are a fantastic medium and the huge impact they have cannot be denied,” she said. On the jury's perspective, Mitchell Weiss, Swiss mental health research scientist and chairperson of the film festival, said the festival had approached mental health not as diagnostic entity but as a problem that operated in the social world.

It also bridged the responsibilities of filmmakers to accurately portray mental health problems and the need for practitioners to appreciate the importance of effectively communicating to the public, he said.

Mohan Agashe, psychiatrist and actor, said films on mental health issues had an important role in presenting a complex condition such as schizophrenia to the lay public in a language they could access.

Noting that good films were ones that raised important questions than sought to present solutions, Mr. Agashe said the value of films in promoting understanding could not be underestimated.

R. Thara, SCARF Director, said the film festival took six months of teamwork to put together. T.T. Srinivasaraghavan, MD, Sundaram Finance, Harsha Koda and R. Mangala, members of the organising committee, also participated.

Keywords: short films