Creativity Matters: Short Film in Hospitals


In addition to the annual short film festival, Glasgow Film Theatre works year round to find new audiences for short film. Screenings take place not only at GFT but also cinemas and film societies across Scotland, in libraries and music festivals and now, for the first time, in a hospital. As part of an Art and Therapeutic Design strategy developed by Ginkgo Projects for the new Royal Hospital for Sick Children and Department of Clinical Neurosciences in Edinburgh, Glasgow Short Film Festival has been commissioned to curate part of a film library.

This film library will offer clinicians the facility to show film content within treatment rooms to help provide distraction for patients during clinical procedures. It will consist of three channels hosted on the hospital server system. Each channel will be used by clinicians and play therapists to distract patients during treatment procedures by encouraging them to relax, engage or focus. Films will be projected onto the wall or ceiling above the patient’s bed.

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Selection of appropriate works presents a unique challenge for a film curator, as the viewing conditions are obviously very different than any other context. Hospital treatment rooms are often highly stressful environments, particularly for children. There is a lot of activity and bright lights, and the patient cannot be expected to give their full concentration to the films. Films are therefore primarily used as a distraction, with no expectation of a clear start or end point. 

Many viewers will have additional needs, and older children or young people will naturally have very different interests and responses from younger ones. Another challenge is that of defining which films fit in which channel – Relax, Engage and Focus. For some viewers a gentle, abstract film may be relaxing, whilst others can only relax by being engaged by a narrative.

We are currently researching titles and getting feedback from practitioners and parents, but GSFF’s focus will be on animation, drawing in part on the annual family animation programmes we screen at the festival. These programmes showcase the most exciting new animation from around the world, mostly intended for a young audience, but occasionally we’ll take a risk with more formally adventurous works. Some of these latter works, less reliant on narrative, are perhaps more suited to the hospital context and we’re excited to learn how patients and practitioners make use of them when the project is launched at the new hospital in 2018.

Matt Lloyd
Glasgow Short Film Festival Director

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