Phoenix OCD Festival Confronts Stereotypes of Mental Illness

Written by M.V. Moorhead Category: Visual Arts Issue: November 2017

The “OCD” in The OCD Festival stands not for the common mental disorder, but rather for “Outstanding Cinematic Delights.” So, at least, claims organizer Suzanne Steinberg.

The festival’s title, says Steinberg, “is meant to confront negative stereotypes of mental illness. It is taking something negative such as a label and trying to associate it with something positive, such as a great film festival. The hope is that the message behind the festival says that people impacted by mental health are still beautiful, wonderful people who deserve to be a part of and cared for by our society.”

Photo courtesy OCD Festival

Thus some of the short films on the schedule have titles like The Stalker and Perks of Agoraphobia. But founder Steinberg notes that in this bill, “There are not many films about mental health. I did get many submissions, however I felt as if the films sent to me did not portray mental health in a way that fostered empathy, compassion and understanding… I wanted it to be more in the background, so as to not create politically controlled or directed content with an agenda.”

The inaugural edition of the fest was held last March at the Bell Canyon Super Saver Cinema at 27th Avenue and Bell, and this Saturday’s event will be at the same venue.

Steinberg, who is also a writer and painter, got involved in cinema through a personal relationship. “I got interested in film through an ex-boyfriend I had in college,” she recalls. “He went to get a film degree and I assume[d] I would get something more practical. However, after watching so many old movies, going through all his projects for his classes, seeing all his student showcases, film didn't seem so unattainable. After we broke up, I saw film differently and the seed to direct and do cinematography had been planted.”

But Steinberg’s eclectic interests are represented in the OCD Fest’s programming: It includes not only films, but also readings by several writers and a performance by comedian Jill Blaine. All this, for a mere $10 at the door.

The OCD Film Festival plays at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, November 11, at the Super Saver Cinemas 8, 2710 W. Bell Rd., Suite #1125. Go to brownpapertickets.com for details.