Toronto mental health documentary What’s Art Got to Do With It? set to screen at TIFF

The documentary screens Oct. 1 at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.

The documentary screens Oct. 1 at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.

Shot over the course of a year, What’s Art Got to Do With It? was directed and produced by Isabel Fryszberg, an occupation therapist and the creative lead of Creative Works Studio, and co-produced by Dr. Janet Parsons, a research scientist in the Applied Health Research Centre of St. Michael’s Hospital.

The film goes inside Toronto’s Creative Works Studio and follows the lives of five individuals who sought support through the studio’s occupational therapy program as they live with mental illness, homelessness, addiction and poverty.

“It’s interesting to actually get the members committed to something like this—it takes a lot of trust,” said Fryszberg. “The studio had to be a place where the members could evolve.”

After its successful premiere in June as part of the Female Eye Film Festival, What’s Art Got to Do With It will be screening at the TIFF Bell Lightbox at 350 King St. W. in Toronto on Tuesday (Oct. 1) at 6 p.m.

The special event screening will include opening remarks from Mary Deacon, chair of the Bell Let’s Talk mental health initiative, as well as a Q & A session and a reception to follow.

Fryszberg said she hopes the documentary will help people understand mental health and the different ways that art can help individuals.

“Art isn’t a luxury, it’s something that we need,” said Fryszberg. “It’s important to have a space that is creative, stocked with resources and friendly because together it creates a place of health.”

Founded in 1998, the Creative Works Studio is a St. Michael’s Hospital Inner City Health program in partnership with the Good Shepherd ministries. The facility provides healing and recovery through the arts for people living with severe and persistent mental illness and/or addictions in a safe and accepting community–based arts studio.

Through the use of painting canvases, capturing photographs, composing songs and creating clay sculptures, members at the Creative Works Studio are able to make creative and personal forms of art.

Often, the art serves as an outlet for members’ thoughts and emotions that they may otherwise have difficulty expressing.

“All I know is that many of the people that come here will have something that strengthens their opportunities,” said Fryszberg. “That could mean going back to school, volunteering, finding work again or just finding that opening that makes them feel better about themselves as a human being.”

Tickets to Tuesday’s screening are sold out, but there will be a rush line at the door in case of extra seating. Tickets are $15 each (plus a $1 processing fee).

About St. Michael’s Hospital

St Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the Hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael’s Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.

Media contacts

For more information, please contact:

Leslie Shepherd
Manager, Media Strategy
[email protected]


Kendra Stephenson
Communications and Public Affairs
St. Michael’s Hospital
[email protected]

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