We Are All Here wins Audience Choice award at 2019 Glasgow Short Film Festival

1 April 2019

Photograph: Greig Gallagher

Short film aims to help young males open up about mental health

Short film ‘We Are All Here’ scooped an audience choice award at the Glasgow Short Film Festival (GSFF19) last week. Already an award-winner, this further accolade brought the topic of male suicide back to the forefront of conversation. In November 2018, Director Hannah Currie was equally humbled to pick up student journalist of the year at the Mind Media awards in London.

The film was shown as part of the short film festival, but first premiered at a fundraising event in Glasgow last February. It narrates the journey of rapper Calum ‘Lumo’ Barnes, who took his own life last year at the age of 21.

Lumo found his calling in the hip-hop scene and established himself in the community when he teamed up with his crew Dead Soundz. The artistic opportunity rapping provided offered Lumo a safe space to explore and create his art. It explored personal clips of Lumo’s rapping, and showed the solidarity of his friends and family following his death.

The film premiere was held at St Lukes & the Winged Ox in collaboration with the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) and their fundraising initiative MHF Live, which is a project run by film director Currie.

The event hosted several panels and live entertainment –  including discussions about the hip-hop scene, and empowering poetry by Layla Josephine.

The first panel included author and rapper Darren ‘Loki” McGarvey, while the other was a question and answer session featuring Currie and other friends and family of Lumo – including his sister.

The first public screening was a success, raising £2145 for MHF. The short film explores the importance of talking to friends and family about your grief.

It captures the solidarity of those in the rapping community, and is an important reminder that it is okay to talk, encouraging men, who are at the highest risk of suicide, to open up.

Photograph: Greig Gallagher

The short film has helped bring difficult conversations about male suicide into the mainstream. Those involved in the hip-hop scene in particular are finding expressing their emotions through music healthy and therapeutic.

McGarvey, who speaks openly on social media about his own mental health, said: “The toothpaste is out the tube and I cannae put it back in and decide I only want to reveal certain details about my life. It’s about making sure I’m not defined by that in my own head and also not being too concerned about what other people say.”

Although they were sceptical at first, the film has also received a lot of support from Lumo’s family. Speaking at the Q&A, his sister Jenn Barnes said: “I think as a family we were quite nervous at first as we never really knew much about his rapping side, your big sister isn’t someone you let into that world because you aren’t cool.

“We never really knew the impact we had on the friends and the friends further a-field. As a family it is really difficult when you are dealing with that kind of grief and that last thing you want to do is speak about it but when we started making the film, we could have been quite selfish and just used it as a memory for us.

“We realised though that this could be an important message and things not have been in vain and help other people.”

Photograph: Greig Gallagher

The audience choice award was an added bonus for Currie, and recognition for sharing this powerful story.

She said: “It means more than I can put into words to win this award. I’m overwhelmed and still haven’t really scraped myself off the ceiling since the ceremony on Sunday night.

“I’m very new to documentary directing and never normally call myself a filmmaker because my films are rough round the edges and far from perfect. But I’m learning to let go of my perfectionism and accept that a lot of my hang-ups don’t matter – it’s the story that matters and it seems to be really speaking to the people as I knew it would do when I first heard about Lumo.”

There has been increased awareness on talking about your mental health in recent years. This is due to a combination of many factors, including anti-stigma campaigns such as People like YOU from See Me Scotland.

One in three people in Scotland will experience mental health problems at some time in their life: this powerful film brings realism and a face to one of the biggest killers of young males.

Currie said: “I think an accessible, engaging message about mental health, particularly one that speaks to young people, was long overdue. And I think the late Lumo happens to be a particularly talented and funny individual who commands attention – likewise his family and friends are so strong and articulate despite being in a great deal of pain, and I’m very grateful to them opening up in order to help others.

“Our goal right from the start was to get as far away as possible from the run of the mill, mainstream messaging about mental health that is so prevalent in education and workplaces and even popular culture, and do something different that made people stand up and take notice.

“So people see it and relate to it for a whole variety of reasons – whether that’s the strong Scottish accents on screen or the hip hop music or the searing honesty of the contributors – and they see that the conversation about mental health needs to be blown wide open and that stigma needs to end and soon.”

The next public screening of the film will be at the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival in May. The festival, run by the Mental Health Foundation, has now been in business for over ten years, and is a fantastic collaboration from communities all across Scotland. The festival encourages art that challenges mental health stigma and promotes discussion and positive wellbeing.

As for the future of both the film and personally, Currie added: “We have also adapted the film for broadcast so it will be available to a wider audience later this year under an alternative title – watch this space.

“Right now, I am in Ireland shooting my next documentary which is supported by the Scottish Documentary Institute and Creative Scotland. It will premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in June.”

Further updates to the film can be found on social media.

https://www.facebook.com/weareallhereteam/ 

https://twitter.com/WAAHteam

If you have been affected by the content in this article or would like to talk to someone, then there are several helplines available in Scotland.

Please contact:

Samaritans 116 123

Breathing Space – 0800 83 85 857

NHS 24 – 111

Photo Credit: Greig Gallagher

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