Following another hugely successful collaboration last year, the Irish Film Institute (IFI) once again teams up with mental health arts festival First Fortnight to present a series of screenings this January on the subject of mental health.

On Saturday, January 6th, The Departure, directed by Lana Wilson, follows a former punk turned Buddhist priest in Japan who has made a career out of counselling suicidal people and who finds himself at a crossroads, forcing him to confront the same question his patients ask him: what makes life worth living? One of the major discoveries of 2017, Emmy winner filmmaker Wilson (After Tiller) directs a beautiful, wise and deeply empathetic immersion into one fascinating character’s unique approach to suicide prevention.

The Departure will be preceded by the Irish short film Throwlinedirected by Mia Mullarkey. Throwline tells the amazing true story of a group of taxi drivers in Co Kilkenny who came together to form a suicide prevention group. Uniquely positioned to patrol the night, the drivers keep vigil over the city’s streets and bridges and offer help to those who feel forlorn.

On Saturday, January 13th, 32 Pills, directed by Hope Litoff, tells the story of Litoff’s sister Ruth’s death by suicide. Having discovered notes and artwork in Ruth’s Manhattan loft, Hope documents both her sister’s struggles and her own in the aftermath of her death. The film aims to start a conversation about the stigma surrounding mental health issues and support for those struggling and those bereaved.

32 Pills will be preceded by the Irish short film Hum, directed by Nathan Fagan. Diagnosed at 19 with schizoaffective disorder – described as the unhappy marriage between bipolar and schizophrenia – Kevin Nolan began writing music to regain some of the freedom he’d lost due to illness. Hum is an intimate, music-fuelled tour of Kevin’s world.

In addition to the above two events, the IFI will join with First Fortnight to present a sold-out special preview and Q&A event on January 4th of Marc J. Francis and Max Pugh’s documentary Walk With Me, which centres on mindfulness guru Thich Nhát Hanh – Walk With Me will open at the IFI on Friday 5th. First Fortnight Board member Una Begley will also introduce a special screening of Robert Redford’s Oscar-winning family drama Ordinary People as part of our Bigger Picture strand on January 15th.

IFI National and First Fortnight will also tour screenings of Nick Kelly’s acclaimed film The Drummer and the Keeper to venues nationwide from January 8th. Full details and booking are available from www.firstfortnight.ie.

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