Voices With Impact 2020
A VIRTUAL FILM PREMIERE AND CONFERENCE!
Voices With Impact is a year-long project that celebrates mental health stories told by filmmakers with unique perspectives and lived experience.
Filmmakers across the world submitted proposals to tell unique stories about underrepresented narratives related to mental health, and our distinguished jury members selected the strongest ideas from the group. Ultimately, ten teams were awarded $5,000 each to support the creation of their short films.
The 2020 topics for five-minute short films were:
- Mental health issues specific to LGBTQIA+ people.
- Mental health issues related to the culture of masculinity.
The world premiere of these films took place on June 22, 2020 and was followed by a week-long festival of dialogue and discussion in which our esteemed storytellers led interactive, enlightening sessions on topics ranging from colonialism and LGBTQIA+ mental health to representations of men of color in the media.
The Rest is Flowers
Over 100 filmmaking teams submitted proposals for this year’s Voices With Impact program. Right when the winning filmmakers were about to shoot, and others were deep in the editing process, a global pandemic hit. They still made their films.
The faces you see here are the people who demonstrated the artistic vision, creative might, and organizational skills to create exceptional short films on a tight budget, and in a short time period.
Led by the filmmakers, this festival featured a selection of seminars that feature interactive, engaging discussions that are related to their films and the larger topics we are exploring through this program.
Monday, June 22
Tuesday, June 23
Thursday, June 25
Friday, June 26
June 22, 2020
LGBTQIA+ Mental Health: Film Showcase and Filmmaker Q&AThe world premiere of four short films around the topic of LGBTQIA+ mental health, followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers themselves. Films screened:
- “Safe Space” by Ali Rizvi
- “The Side Effects of Normal” by Mari Wrobi
- “Staging Face” by Steph Young, Jake Ivany, Vie Jones
- “The Rest is Flowers” by Dale John Allen
Mental Health and the Culture of Masculinity: Film Showcase and Filmmaker Q&AThe world premiere of five short films around the topic of mental health and the culture of masculinity, followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers themselves. Films screened:
- “The Beautiful Black Man” by Calvin Walker
- “Continue to Live” by Paolo Riveros
- “Factory Talk” by Lucie Rachel and 1990s Chris
- “Fighter” by Meagan Brown
- “Masc” by Amilcar Javier
June 23, 2020
Colonialism and LGBTQIA+ Mental HealthA knowledge of the history of colonization is crucial to understanding the experiences of both LBGTQIA+ people in Southeast Asia and LGBTQIA+ people of color in the United States. In this workshop, filmmakers Ali Rizvi (“Safe Space”) and Calvin Walker (“The Beautiful Black Man”) screened their films, discussed, and explored the violence inflicted on South Asian cultures and Black people in the US, and examined how colonialism continues to shape contemporary gender and sexual identities.
Queerness and Mental Health, Behind the ScenesGrounded in a screening of Lucie Rachel and 1990’s Chris’s Voices With Impact film, “Factory Talk,” this session brought together queer directors and producers to candidly explore the mental health impacts of working in the filmmaking industry. Speakers included Joy Gharoro-Akpojotor (producer, writer), Lindsey Dryden (producer, writer, director), and Adeel Amini (Senior TV Producer). Discussion examined this seldom discussed topic exploring advocacy, community, and ideas for how we can challenge and ultimately change the structures that work against queer filmmakers.
Facing Stage: The Importance of Representation in Queer SpacesFollowing a screening of “Staging Face,” filmmaker Steph Young spoke with drag artists Jennifer DaFuque, Richard Rockhard, Rhett Slutler, Tai Europe, and Mike Hunt about the unique role that performance has played in their mental health journeys. Speakers discussed what it means to be a drag artist while navigating individual experiences with race, disability, and gender identity, and shared their perspectives on the need for more diverse representation in mainstream drag communities.
June 24, 2020
Talking Tough: Using Poetry to Tackle Mental Health StigmaIn this session, we screened “Masc” by Amilcar Javier and “Factory Talk” by Lucie Rachel and 1990s Chris. Then, we explored how poetry and mental health converge. There is a lot of poetry out there on the subject of mental health. There are many anthologies based around the subject, and at most poetry events you’re guaranteed to hear a piece or two that centre around these themes. Why is it so difficult to talk about mental health in real life, when it is so prevalent in poetry? Why does the artform lend itself so well to discussing these issues? How can we use this to tackle stigma? We delved into these points, combined our discussion with writing exercises, and explored how we can use poetry to tackle mental health stigma and express our difficulties and triumphs.
Self-Care in a Selfless ProfessionIn her Voices With Impact film, “Fighter,” Meagan Brown explores how firefighters’ mental health is impacted by their ongoing exposure to traumatic events. Using this film as a springboard, this interactive session brought together voices of firefighters and paramedics as they explored issues related to trauma, self-care, and the motivations that drive folks to work in professions with extremely high emotional and physical demands. We addressed questions including: How do you protect your own mental health in the face of ongoing exposure to trauma? And when you’re the person people look up to, what does it look like to admit vulnerability?
Interviewing With HeartEveryone has a story, and filmmakers have a unique responsibility to listen to and amplify the stories of those who wish to share. Grounded in a screening of her film, “Fighter,” Meagan Brown guided an interactive discussion with three documentary filmmakers to explore the fine art of interviewing for film and television, and the importance of creating safe, supportive spaces for listening, communication and storytelling.
June 25, 2020
Queer Narratives: The Impact of Storytelling on LGBTQIA+ AudiencesWhilst there is still a lack of positive, complex character-driven representation in mainstream film and tv, there has recently been a rise in queer series, films and characters in more mainstream films and tv, especially on platforms such as Netflix. What impact does this have on queer audiences and communities, both collectively and personally? Speakers included Nosa Eke (writer, director), Laura Kirwan-Ashman (writer, director), and Rico Johnson-Sinclair (Director of CineQ film festival).
Writing Complex Queer Characters for FilmIn this interactive session, we watched and discussed “The Rest is Flowers.” Then, Art With Impact’s Executive Director, Cary McQueen, lead a discussion with filmmaker Dale John Allen and CampbellX about their processes for writing queer characters for film, challenges they have faced, and their suggestions for emerging and established writers, alike.
Intersex 101“Intersex 101” allows those who are just getting started in their intersex allyship the opportunity to learn everything they need to know to be the most effective in their advocacy. This workshop featured a screening of “The Side Effects of Normal” and sought to answer the most common myths and misconceptions about intersex people, empowered attendees with the correct terms and phrases to be the most appropriate in their activism, and answered questions that attendees had about the needs of the intersex community and what they can do to be an ally to intersex people in their day-to-day lives. Following “Intersex 101” will be a discussion with River Gallo, an intersex actor and filmmaker, about the importance of intersex representation in the film industry.
June 26, 2020
Following a presentation of “Masc”, by Amilcar Javier, and “Ghungroo”, by Ali Rizvi, Amilcar guided an open discussion regarding how toxic masculinity informs LGBTQIA+ experiences and how gender & identity can be redefined. This discussion included special guests:
-Elvin Garcia – a government affairs professional and community organizer with over 10 years of experience in local and state government, various political campaigns, and strategic project management.
-Keith Garcia – a leadership educator and consultant. Keith works within and beyond the higher education landscape supporting campuses, fraternal organizations, and community groups from a lens of justice and equity.
After screening “Masc,” this session featured a candid discussion on the stigma surrounding mental health, particularly regarding the mental health effects of toxic masculinity in communities of color, and explored ways to break the cycle of shame to develop a positive relationship with mental health. This discussion included special guests:
– Luis Alejandro Tapia – a son of Dominican immigrants, Luis serves as a social impact and equity consultant, a racial and restorative justice coach and trainer, community circle keeper, social justice educator, and facilitator at the intersections of spirituality, leadership, healing and liberation.
– Jason Rosario – founder of The Lives of Men, a social impact and creative agency that is challenging masculinity, redefining integrity, and reimaging identity; his work sits at the intersection of self-actualization, culture, and wellness.
– Martin Nuñez-Bonilla – a Dominican-American content creator that self-produces a web series called MEN CRY, allowing people the opportunity to candidly share their experiences with masculinity, emotional vulnerability, and other personal challenges. Martin also works for Phipps Neighborhoods, an organization dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty in the South Bronx.
Representations of Men of Color in the MediaFollowing a screening of “The Beautiful Black Man,” this session featured a conversation geared towards discussing the importance of creating nuanced characters for men of color from all walks of life as well as the effect of media representation on the consciousness of the audiences taking in the content. Speakers discussed the importance of learning to cherish the dialect and language of people within the African-diaspora.
We relied on a dedicated group of mental health professionals, professional filmmakers, and subject matter experts on the culture of masculinity and queer culture to review the film proposals and select the teams whose visions would be funded through this project. The expert humans you see here are the generous and gracious judges who selected the winning filmmakers for this year’s Voices With Impact program.
Voices With Impact would not be possible without our funding partners. The Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission has been pioneering innovative mental health strategies for 15 years throughout the state of California with a focus on early intervention, prevention, and education.