Egypt’s El Gouna Film Festival, held this month, was remarkable for a parallel programme of seminars and workshops on links between cinema, artists’ mental health, and life in general.
The panel discussion which attracted most attention was about the mental health of actors, whose work calls for simulated emotions, role-playing, and other psychologically demanding efforts.
The nine-day event, the fifth since the festival was created in 2017, opened in the Red Sea resort of El Gouna on October 14.
A panel titled “Breathe, Talk, Perform: A Take on Psychological Well-Being of Actors” discussed actors’ psychological vulnerability to rejected role applications, failure in performance tests, negative audience reaction, or criticism.
Mariam Naoum, a screenwriter, drew attention to the sensitivity of creative persons and urged directors to find ways of reducing the psychological pressure on actors. She also called for the presence of a psychologist on film sets, saying this could improve productivity and creativity.
The panel discussion was organised in collaboration with Medfest Egypt, which describes itself as a touring forum using films to raise public awareness about mental health.