Through the lens of our films, the unique Au Contraire Film Festival strives to achieve awareness of and advocacy for mental health issues.
The Au Contraire Film Festival goes beyond screening films. We engage the Montreal community through film experiences that inspire, educate, challenge and entertain. The Au Contraire Film Festival strives to erase the stigma and dispel the myths surrounding mental illness and is a signature initiative of Urban Pardes, a registered charity benefiting mental health initiatives.
- We annually screen, in English and French, jury selected films from around the world and provide access to a selection of online films;
- Explore different dimensions of mental illness through stirring and thought provoking films;
- Stimulate dialogue through audience participation;
- Encourage community organizations and corporations to open conversations that help change the workplace for the better; and
- Provides free youth awareness programs to educational institutions
Some of the many themes featured are OCD, depression, suicidal ideation, bipolar disorder, psychosis, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, burnout, addiction, gambling, and homelessness.
We seek films that are thought-provoking, moving, and entertaining. We want to shed light on mental illness to bring it to the forefront, dispel the stigma, and spark conversation and change. We have now recently branched out with new collaborations in the fields of dementia and autism. And so, the Au Contraire Film Festival is an ideal platform for bringing these themes and issues into the light of awareness and change while celebrating the power and fun of film!
The Au Contraire Film Festival is an initiative of Paradis Urbain, a Canadian registered charity whose greater mission is assisting individuals, who, due to their mental illness, are having difficulty moving forward and recovering their lives.
Recognizing the power of creative expression as a catalyst that inspires Montreal citizens to take action, Paradis Urbain, through the Au Contraire Film Festival, strives to dispel stereotypes and reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness.
Urban Pardes, established UP House to help adults living with mental illness rebuild their confidence, purpose, and community. The Clubhouse Model is an evidence-based, award-winning recovery model subscribed to by over 320 mental health communities or “clubhouses” across the world. The UP House was awarded the 2012 Douglas Utting Medal for excellence and innovation in the field of mental health in Canada. The 2014 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, the world’s largest humanitarian prize, was awarded to Clubhouse International and its Clubhouse network for doing extraordinary worldwide work to alleviate human suffering. The UP House serves more than 300 active members each year and is in its 13th year of operation.
The net proceeds of the Au Contraire Film Festival support the operation of UP House.
We believe that through the power of film, we can raise awareness, foster empathy, and inspire change. Let's come together and support a world where people with mental health challenges are understood, accepted, and embraced for who they are.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to be a part of this vital movement. Join us today in our mission to make a difference!
What People Say
Who We Are
We purposely seek out edgy, thought-provoking films from around the world that explore multiple mental-health issues from numerous viewpoints, feature in screening panels for film participants, movie directors, producers, receivers of mental health services, mental health professionals and enlighten the audience perceptions of mental illness through participation and discussion.
I believe in the power of the medium of film and art in general. In the words of Cesar A. Cruz, I believe that “art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” Therein lies the catalyst for discussion, debate, and potential change, especially as it applies, in this case, to removing the stigma of mental illness. That being said, the festival does promote a hopeful message, and many of the films strike a delicate and brilliant balance between oppressive pain and healing humour.
Curator & Program Director
The festival is really about dispelling the myths of mental illness and not about the dramatization of it, as is so often the case in Hollywood films.
Film Scout and Juror
ACFF Advisory Board