The organisers behind SICK! Festival aren’t ones to shy away from the difficult topics. In fact, with this year’s programme of events focusing loosely on the themes of sex and sexuality, abuse and suicide, it’s hard to imagine a less cheery basis for a festival. SICK! isn’t here to make your life more jolly, but to make us reflect on the challenges of life and death: it’s raw, it’s real, and it’s probably the complete opposite of a festival that’ll make you want to drink warm pints and get off with someone who hasn’t washed all weekend.
The programme for this year is a melange of genres, with film, debates, literature, art and live performances. We picked out some of the highlights below.
How To Disappear Completely
The Old Market, Thursday 12th March 2015
Award-winning Israeli film-maker and lighting technician Itai Erdal’s takes a journey through this performance that none of us would like to take. The sudden illness and subsequent death of his mother in 2000 is recorded and relayed through hours of film, hundreds of photographs and heartfelt memories, which culminate in his mother asking him to help her take her own life. This dilemma, both a topic which is relevant in modern society and a quandary as old as humanity itself, forms the basis of his intimate, dark story.
Baring The Scars
The Basement, Saturday 14th March 2015
A quick look at any bestseller chart will show that stories about abuse sell. This panel discussion reflects on why painful tales and recollections appeal to readers, and what makes authors want to write them, often revealing personal histories or imagining gruesome and difficult scenarios. With a panel that includes abuse survivors, writers who have chosen abuse as a theme, and factual writers who encounter abuse in their professional lives, this discussion will bring together a diverse group of views and experience.
Dukes @ Komedia, Saturday 21st March 2015
Frank, brutal and stunning, this film focuses on the Golden Gate Bridge suicides of 2004. A film crew stationed at the iconic San Francisco landmark captured twenty-four suicides and numerous attempts during the year, and these actions, along with the reactions of the witnesses – including nearby surfers, sailors and walkers – and the friends and families of the deceased, form the basis of a touchingly dark documentary.
Surviving Suicide? How Can Those Left Behind Ever Make Sense Of A Death Through Suicide?
Fabrica, Wednesday 18th March 2015
This debate is one that will appeal to anyone who’s been touched by suicide, depression and suicidal thoughts. Discussing topics such as community responsibility and support, personal accountability, anger and grief are a group of panellists that include policy-makers, clinical practitioners, academics and people personally affected. 50% of the entrance fee will be donated to Grassroots Suicide Prevention.
So You Can Feel
The Old Market, Thursday 5th March 2015
On a lighter note, highly acclaimed Belgian performer Pieter Ampe presents a dance performance that slides from seductive to stand-offish, using subtle gestures and movements to portray a wide variety of characters, sexualities and personalities. His intense control of his body enables him to cruise through emotions and reactions in a performance that delivers bursts of energy and nervous excitement. The performance is followed by a presentation and discussion on new models of masculine heterosexuality.
SICK! runs from 2nd – 25th March, and the full programme and tickets are available here.
Words by Jessica Marshall McHattie