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Creativity & mental health at the Berlinale



EFM Horizon hosted a session on creativity and mental health on Saturday, with speakers including me (talking a bit about some stories I’ve written recently about this topic – like this one and this one), neuroscientist Dr Ina Filla and entrepreneurial expert Habib Lesevic from J2C, producer and therapist Rebecca Day from Film in Mind, and music industry expert Ronny Krieger.


Well done to the EFM team, especially Matthijs and Manu, for recognizing the importance of hosting this kind of event during a busy Berlinale. And a shout out to the day’s curator Kathleen Schröter from Fraunhofer HHI.


It was an intimate and interactive session, and one brave screenwriter spoke about his experience when he said he was “on the border of psychosis” while working abroad, delving into a character’s dark emotions. “I feel like I don’t have room to take care of my own mental health,” he confessed. The experts in the room offered him some great advice, including using his body to physically shake off emotions, all those negative thoughts he had internalized during the writing process. And as Habib said, “Life is bigger than your deadlines.”


Other advice included journaling, avoiding drugs and alcohol, engaging in meditation or physical exercise, or doing breath work.


Film in Mind’s Rebecca Day says another step forward will be putting in a budget line on every production for mental health support (something that will hopefully be backed by a film’s financiers the future). She also recommends creating a quiet space on a shoot where stressed workers can retreat.


Participants also took part in a sensory deprivation experience (pictured above) led by Ina and Habib. (Photo credit EFM 2020/Angela Regenbrecht)


I hope this is just the start of many more events and talks looking at solutions at a personal level as well as industry wide.


Also I was encouraged to hear that two smart industry experts I know are thinking about ways for industry professionals to recharge during festivals and beyond – Francine Raveney from Eurimages/EWA is a certified Pilates instructor who was running free Pilates classes in Berlin and plans to do the same in Cannes. And Irena Taskovski of Taskovski Films is a 5Rhythms instructor who also promotes mindfulness in the film industry (nice interview she did with Nick Cunningham of Business Doc Europe here.)



Wendy Mitchell is a film and entertainment journalist, film festival consultant, and panel and Q&A moderator.