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> > > CoolTan Arts premieres three films at the British Film Institute

By Jon Pratty

a group of people are smiling and walking towards the camera CoolTan Arts

Walkers just about to set off on another Largactyl Shuffle. © CoolTan Arts

Image: CoolTan Arts

CoolTan Arts, the London-based arts project working with mental health service users, launched three new film projects at the British Film Institute on 8 February, 2010.

Two of the films, 'The Largactyl Shuffle,' and 'CoolTan Arts - who we are, what we do and how we do it,' document the work of this pioneering arts group.

'In the studio with Maggi Hambling' chronicles the day-to-day life of CoolTan's Patron and will show again in March at the BFI, as part of the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival.

'The Largactyl Shuffle' is a lively, insightful and informal documentary film following one of CoolTan Arts' monthly Largactyl Shuffle guided cultural walks from Maudsley Hospital to Denmark Hill.

Largactyl Shuffle walks have been exploring the hidden history of mental health for the past two years. The project makes explicit the link between good mental health, the environment and exercise while offering people with mental distress meaningful opportunities to be part of the wider community.

Volunteers and participants lead and manage these regular public events. The Largactyl Shuffle walks - which are open to all - are every third Saturday of the month. Largactyl is an anti-psychotic drug that has extreme physical side effects; users experience lethargy and a distinctive gait. Even after coming off the drug, users commonly take years to recover physical well-being.

CoolTan Arts will show the films nationally and internationally at film festivals and cinemas, recognising and celebrating the achievements of CoolTan Arts' participants, raising awareness about mental health and demonstrating creative ways to challenge stigma and discrimination associated with mental distress. .

a woman wearing a blue top is sitting down and talking CoolTan Arts

Maggi Hambling, CBE, Patron of CoolTan Arts, seen in the new CoolTan film about her work and her feelings about art, mental health and sexuality. © CoolTan Arts

Image: CoolTan Arts

A Youtube clip of Maggi Hambling shows the painter, sculptor and patron of CoolTan Arts, being interviewed in her studio about her work, sexuality and mental health.

Word is spreading about the new work. CoolTan Arts has already had a request to show 'The Largactyl Shuffle' and 'In the Studio with Maggi Hambling' at the New York Mental Health film festival in April 2010.

More about CoolTan

CoolTan Arts is a ground breaking mental health and arts charity run by and for the 25% of the population who experience / live with mental distress. CoolTan Arts has 19 years experience of successfully working with people with mental distress.

Its presence at the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival will enable CoolTan to reach out more to the gay community. It is a significant step for an organisation that champions social inclusion and mutual understanding for all sections of the society.

CoolTan Arts uses the power of creativity to support recovery, rehabilitate and de-stigmatise people's perceptions of themselves and others. It is a charity which exists to inspire the well-being and creative participation of a diverse range of people through the production of quality art, run by and for adults with mental distress.

If you have a venue and would like to show any of the CoolTan Films, more information is available from: Kathrin Kirrmann, Communications Officer, CoolTan Art, Tel 020 7701 2696