Image: A question and answer session was held after the film was screened. Contact Board Chair Tony Macaulay, left, with Dr Tony O’Neill, Consultant Psychiatrist, Queen’s University; Martin Daly, consultant in service user experience; Siobhan O’Neill, Professor of Mental Health Sciences at Ulster University; producer Tim Palmer; lead actor Moe Dunford and writer/director Terry McMahon
By Brian Pelan, editor, VIEW
Counselling charity Contact last night hosted the Northern Ireland premiere of the acclaimed Irish film ‘Patrick’s Day’, at this year’s Belfast Film Festival.
The screening, part of the Belfast Film Festival, was held in front of a packed audience at the Movie House cinema on Dublin Road in Belfast.
The film tells the story of Patrick, a 26-year-old schizophrenic, who falls in love with a woman who herself is having ideas of suicide.
It starts actors Moe Dunford as Patrick and Kerry Fox as his mother.
In a beautifully shot movie, the audience are presented with a difficult story and choices that people make.
To cast a film, where the main lead has to portray the effects of schizophrenia, is a difficult undertaking. But through the whole of the film, which had incredible beauty and bleak pain, Dunford shone through with the intensity of his performance.
It deserves to be shown to a much wider audience as too often and shamefully, people suffering from mental illness face a struggle to get understanding and support from the wider community.
For a long period they had to go and live in mental institutions. The supposedly “care in the community” strategy was a welcome move, but cutbacks and inadequate financial provision in mental health services in Northern Ireland and the Republic have left a lot of people struggling to cope with their illness.
Last year, the Royal College of Nurses (RCN) said in a statement: “Staff cuts and bed shortages are leaving mental health services “under unprecedented strain.”
The Royal College of Nursing says there are now 3,300 fewer posts in mental health nursing, and 1,500 fewer beds, than in 2010.
And a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) launched to coincide with World Mental Health Day 2014, showed that wider health service upheaval and funding cutbacks as a result of the government’s austerity programme have impeded the implementation of the Republic’s most recent mental health policy.
Patrick’s Day can be seen in the Movie House at Dublin Road, Belfast, and Coleraine from Friday, May 24.
Contact is at 1st floor, Lanyon Building, Jennymount, North Derby Street, Belfast, BT15 3HL. Telephone: 028 9074 4499