Au Contraire Film Festival

The Au Contraire Film Festival goes beyond screening films. We engage the Montreal community
through film experiences that inspire, educate, challenge and entertain.

The Au Contraire Film Festival strives to erase the stigma and dispel the myths surrounding mental illness. In partnership with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the ACFF is a signature initiative of Urban Pardes, a registered charity benefiting mental health initiatives.

  • We annually screen, in English and French, jury selected films from around the world.
  • Explore different dimensions of mental illness through stirring and thought provoking films;
  • Stimulate dialogue through audience participation;
  • Encourage mental health front-line organizations to use the festival as a mini-fundraiser through ticket sales; and
  • Provides free youth awareness programs to Montreal area high schools.

Through the lens of our films, the unique Au Contraire Film Festival strives to achieve awareness of and advocacy for mental health issues.



Paradis Urbain

The Au Contraire Film Festival is an initiative of Paradis Urbaina Canadian registered charity whose greater mission is assisting individuals, who, due to their mental illness, are having difficulty moving forward and recovering their lives.

Recognizing the power of creative expression as a catalyst that inspires Montreal citizens to take action, Paradis Urbain, through the Au Contraire Film Festival, strives to dispel stereotypes and reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness.



upThrough their ¨Sharing the Museum¨ initiative, the MMFA is proud to be a presenting partner of the Au Contraire Film Festival. The ACFF complements the museum’s long-running tradition of offering a cultural experience to Montrealer’s with special needs. Erasing the stigma of mental illness and developing new programs that can integrate visual art within a recovery model is an integral part of the Museum’s mission.


Stigma Hurts.

Film has a long history of portraying negative stereotypes of people with mental illness.

Psycho, Fight Club, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Silver Linings Playbook. Often the fictional character is violent, dangerous, and scary. After viewing a movie with a homicidal maniac or other violent psychotic involved, what is the effect on our beliefs about the mentally ill, on their families, legislators, or the patients themselves? This is stigmatizing.

The Au Contraire Film Festival seeks to promote more sophisticated representations of people with mental illness.

Stereotypically, movies portray those with mental illness as outcasts, debilitated, isolated, dependent, dangerous, unpredictable, comedic, annoying and incompetent. The ACFF strives for the opposite.

ACFF films reflect the realities of stigmatization – the feelings of being afraid, ignored, devalued, rejected or irrelevant but also emphasize that mental illness is

  • not a fault,
  • not a weakness,
  • not a lack of character,
  • not hopeless.

It is an illness.


Inspire Educate Challenge Entertain.


“It is a festival unlike any other in the city. The Au Contraire Film Festival…is focused squarely on breaking down barriers and removing stigmas surrounding mental illness, and it invariably delivers with some of the most jolting yet eye-opening offerings on screen.” Bill Brownstein, The Montreal Gazette October 2017


“….ACFF films truly conveyed the power of the disease over the minds of the affected and the enormous struggle involved to enable them to function…..thank you for making these films available
to us.” S.G.

“The opening night film choice was superb. Congratulations on an extremely moving and interesting
Q&A. Bravo.” Elaine S

“We are waiting to board for our return to Los Angeles and we wanted to take a moment to say how honored we were to be a part of such a wonderful festival and to be surrounded by so many amazing
and talented artists who are striving to bring awareness to mental illness”. Joe Dain, Producer, Elizabeth Blue

“Your film festival is so inspiring and when I get back to the UK I will be spreading the word about what you are achieving.” Helen Mason, Animation Therapy

“I remember leaving last year’s opening night thinking how can this be topped….and you did it !! The two nights I attended, Tuesday and Thursday,are still resonating with me.” Naomi S.


“Thank you again for this Youth Matinee. The students expressed that they really enjoyed the films and discussions.“ F.B. guidance counselor