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‘Art as a creative means to achieve mental well-being’

By Reyivolü Rhakho Updated: Jun 29, 2020 8:30 am

Award-winning director of documentary explains why she chose to talk about a very less talked-about subject

Reyivolu Rhakho
Kohima, June 29 (EMN):
A documentary by The Kohima Institute, entitled ‘A State of Mental Wellbeing Through Art’, had won the ‘Silver Audience Choice Award’ at Changing the Story (CTS) International Film Festival 2020, which was held from June 1 to 5.

The film festival had selected around 29 films from across different CTS projects in 16 countries. ‘A State of Mental Wellbeing Through Art’ and two other documentaries of the CTS team from Nagaland were also selected for screening.

The director of the documentary, Thepfuchanuo Kire, in an interview with Eastern Mirror, discussed about the mental health issues faced by people, particularly youngsters in the state. In the 17-minute long documentary, Kire had showed how engaging in creative form of arts and seeking the advice of experts could help deal with such challenges.

Thepfuchanuo Kire during the filming of the documentary.

“It was an amazing feeling to receive the prestigious award. I felt humbled. It gave me hope to keep working towards my dreams and beliefs in life,” said Kire.

The documentary is interview-based, with different opinions on mental health and well-being from different people including mental health professionals, civil society organisations, and youths.

“Art being part of our key theme, artists talked about mental health and the creative ways in which art can contribute to one’s mental well-being,” Kire said.

Given the complex topic that mental health is, the documentary covered a very small portion of the wider issue but aimed to create awareness among the audiences, she added.

Why mental health?

Kire, who is also a research assistant at The Kohima Institute, an independent research trust, spoke about the reasons for choosing the topic of mental health.

“Mental health was the topic I chose to explore as I feel it was still a very less talked-about subject,” she shared.

Creating awareness on mental health issues was one of the major reasons behind making of the documentary. The director felt that more education and awareness should be imparted to the people so that they can practice a healthy approach to cope with the issues.

Mental health cannot be ignored

Through the documentary, she intended to portray the major causes that affect the mental well-being of youths today. ‘The kind of problems and struggles they go through that result in anxiety—be it within their family or the society,’ Kire said.

One thing that the director had in mind while making the documentary was for viewers to understand that there are organisations and supporters they can reach out to. It was to let them know that there are other creative ways to deal with the issue. She hoped that viewers will realise that there are a variety of other solutions out there, and what had been portrayed in the documentary is just a small portion of the many solutions.

“Problems are always greater in post-conflict settings, given that it is a taboo subject. That there is a need of new, focused, policy measures to deal with the issue straight on as the burdens of mental health and traumas many youths have faced and are facing cannot simply be ignored,” the researcher pointed out.

Challenges along the way

Kire, who is in her late 20s, shared that her journey and experience in making the documentary has been an extraordinary one.

Since it was her first time making a documentary, she said that ‘everything was new,’ from the creating process of the film to researching on mental health and meeting with mental health professionals.

One of the major challenges she faced was trying to explore on more sensitive issues and cases. Initially, she thought of exploring sensitive cases but she learnt that it was a hard task to access subjects on such matters.

Therefore, she decided to focus more on the positive side of the story, and found out that peer education was very helpful.

Overall, she said that the journey of making the documentary had helped her to discover new angles and perspectives as a researcher and a new filmmaker on the grounds of mental health.

The Kohima-based researcher shared that documentaries have become an excellent platform where youths can express their ideas and outlook towards their own surroundings. “In fact, it has become an educative medium where any viewer can see and understand the unknown side of the story,” she said.

Kire believed that documentary could be a good medium for Nagas as well, to express and show to the world, the rich culture, emotions, concerns, and creativity.

She attributed her achievement to God and all the individuals involved in the making of the documentary.

‘The award was also not achievable without the love and support of viewers, family and friends who participated in the online film festival and also voted for the documentary,’ she added.

The documentary is available on CTS YouTube channel.

CTS is a UK-based collaborative project among universities, artists, INGOs, grassroots CSOs, and young people across countries.

By Reyivolü Rhakho Updated: Jun 29, 2020 8:30:00 am