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"Come per ogni cambiamento istituzionale e strutturale, prima viene la consapevolezza dei bisogni, poi l'impegno e la responsabilità"

Rapporto industria: Documentario

Serra Ciliv • Psicoterapeuta, produttrice e curatrice, Film in Mind


Il punto di vista di un'esperta sulla creazione di un'industria cinematografica più sana e sulla sensibilizzazione alla salute mentale e all'inclusione

Serra Ciliv • Psicoterapeuta, produttrice e curatrice, Film in Mind

Questo articolo è disponibile in inglese.

On 13 March, the Thessaloniki International Documentary Festival hosted a talk entitled “We Care a Lot!”, which saw the participation of filmmakers Laura Bari, Annika Mayer, Elina Psykou and Nina Maria Paschalidou. The discussion was moderated by Serra Ciliv, a psychotherapist, producer, curator and associate therapist for the UK’s Film in Mind. After the event, we spoke to Ciliv, who summarised the panel’s key insights and the efforts needed to build awareness and a healthier film industry.

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Cineuropa: You’re a woman of many hats. Could you please briefly introduce yourself to our readers?
Serra Ciliv:
Although it looks like many hats, I consider all my lines of work and study as part of one, overarching purpose. For 18 years after 2000, I acted as the director of the !f Istanbul Independent Film Festival, a platform and a creative space for belonging and free expression around cinema. My work as a film curator and producer was part of that experience. For me, it’s always been about co-creation and witnessing together – namely, witnessing joy and resilience in community. Now, as a process-orientated therapist and facilitator, I’m still interested in creating a safe space for all the voices within – to help foster care, courageous communication, solidarity and resilience in our very own personal ecosystems, communities and industries.

What were the most interesting insights shared by the panellists?
For me, what stood out was the courage and the vulnerability that our panellists revealed once they started to talk about the intricate details of their work. They revealed how they are grappling with some of the biggest collective traumas and forms of oppression in our world, approaching these big issues with their personal, heartfelt connections to their themes and their participants, and how they each have had to search for their own creative ways to witness and be with the pain in the field. To me, their stories revealed that, despite the fact that documentary-making is a profession of care for the world we live in, questions around the mental well-being of directors and teams were often side-stepped. It was also clear that with all the hardship they take on, for the industry in general, it’s still hard to imagine and work towards what kind of support structures should be put in place.

How has the interest in and sensitivity to mental-health issues in film production changed over the last ten years, at least in Europe? What has improved, and what has not?
As our panellists and then, later, people from the audience commented, in the industry, these sensitive moments, in which we can listen to what needs more care, are rare. There is a stigma about emotional hardships, mental health and the need for support. And that stigma silences people. Yet, I feel that the conversation has started, and there are projects and institutions that understand the need for good mental health. I know that soon enough, more and more conscientious and responsible companies, festivals, markets and funders will come on board. Recently, research by DocuMentality and Film in Mind has exposed the fact that many documentary filmmakers struggle with trauma and secondary trauma, unsafe working conditions, the intricacies of working with vulnerable protagonists, ethical questions around the processes of their work, anxiety related to financial stability, intersectional issues and, of course, the lack of access to mental-health services. We have a lot of work ahead of us.

To what extent, and in which specific ways, could institutions and production teams improve mental health on set?
As with any institutional and structural change in the world, first comes an awareness of the needs, and then commitment and accountability. All work around diversity and inclusion – and hence mental well-being for all individuals – stems from such dedication. And this responsibility is to be shared by decision makers across the board. Now, as I mentioned, we’ve got research that shows the needs in the industry: greater transparency, a more equitable balance of power, standardised working practices, flexibility around needs stemming from personal health and family, and crucially, mental-health support for filmmakers, crew and protagonists in documentary films.

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