Every year, one in five Australians experience a mental illness.
Depression, anxiety and substance abuse are some of the most common mental health issues in Australia right now. In Genevieve Bailey’s new documentary Happy Sad Man, she tackles the urgent topic of male mental health – of which the chilling statistics are often acknowledged but not examined in depth.
In 2011, males accounted for 76% of deaths from suicide. Bailey has set out to discover why this is the case, and hopes it starts a genuine conversation on a topic we as a society desperately need to discuss.
Bailey is one of Australia’s leading filmmakers. Born in Melbourne in the late 1980s, she graduated in 2003 with a Bachelor of Creative Arts Honours from the Victorian College of Arts, Melbourne University. Bailey has been fascinated by the topic of masculinity ever since her university days, and her honours film and thesis focussed on Japanese masculinity.
Since graduating, Bailey has been named one of Australia’s ‘Top Film and TV directors’ in Encore and Mumbrella Annual. Additionally, Melbourne Magazine named her one of “Melbourne’s most influential, inspirational, provocative and creative people.”
In 2011, Bailey completed her first feature documentary titled I Am Eleven. The film, which won a variety of awards in Australia and beyond, details the lives of 11-year-olds in different environments. The documentary came at a difficult time for Bailey, who at the time had been in a serious car accident, as well as experiencing the loss of her father.
“I wanted to make something quite simply that would make me happy and make audiences happy,” Bailey said. “I thought back to my favourite age in life and that was when I was eleven, and I thought I wondered what would it be like to be eleven today.”
Fascinatingly, Bailey’s film was produced without any film funding, grants or benefactors. This generated a reputation for the filmmaker, who has since become well-known (and well-liked) for her low budget, D.I.Y. approach to the filmmaking process. This passion for cinema led Bailey to establish her own production company, Proud Mother Pictures in Melbourne. The company prides itself on celebrating and employing diverse filmmakers.
Happy Sad Man
Screening at this year’s festival, this profoundly illuminating portrait of five Australians from Bondi Beach to the outback, a war photographer traversing the globe to a farmer in country Victoria, challenges the way we think about mental health. Taking in their hopes, anxieties, joy and darkness – Happy Sad Man gives unforgettable voice to the complex emotional landscapes of modern masculinity.
Tough, tender and touching, and set to a beautiful score by Nick Huggins and vocals by Lisa Mitchell, Bailey’s film shines a memorable light on a complex and urgent topic that’s been little talked about for far too long.
Thursday 18 October, 6pm, GU Film House Adelaide
Sunday 21 October, 1:40pm, GU Film House Adelaide