44th Drama International Short Film Festival

Cinematherapy with Denise Nikolakou.Cinematherapy with Denise Nikolakou

An innovative program occurring for the second consecutive year in the context of the events of the Drama International Short Film Festival.

Cinematherapy is defined as the use of films to motivate and recognize emotions or to draw conclusions in the context of the psychotherapeutic process. Cinematherapy is in fact associated with the ancient art of storytelling as an educational tool. Cinematherapy can be used to encourage the audience to understand almost any subject matter, as cinema covers an extremely wide range of subjects.

The current times of expanded communication codes and the new digital forms of expression indicate that the role of cinema is being redefined, acquiring a new dimension, which if properly adopted by the cultural workers, can offer unlimited possibilities in expanding the cognitive and the spiritual understanding of the spectators.

Despite our familiarity with online media and the direct access it offers to a variety of topics, it seems that very few of them cultivate a multicultural culture, the fight against stereotypes, discrimination, and acceptance of diversity. Undoubtedly, the times we are living in are extremely difficult even for mentally resilient people due to the extreme and abrupt changes in all areas of everyday life. Thus, we are called to face increasingly difficult challenges and to manage complex problems.

It is widely accepted that a film is the product of the work of many professionals who often come from different backgrounds and cultures, something that promotes a sense of harmonious cooperation and acceptance of diversity.

In the context of the events of the Drama International Short Film Festival taking place physically from 12th to 18th September 2021, and all year round through the festival platform (, three films have been selected for this year. The originality of this year’s program, in addition to the special content of the films that is a criterion for their selection in this topic, is that two of the three selected films are documentaries. The screenings of the films of the Cinematherapy program will take place on 15th, 16th, and 17th September 2021 at the open-air cinema “ALEXANDROS” from 20:00 to 22:00 in an open discussion with the audience in the presence of the film’s directors and the head of the program, Denise Nikolakou, coordinating the event.


  • Wednesday 15/09: Screening and discussion of the film How to Train an Antihero by Yannis Bletas (Greece), with the presence of the special educator Maria Xanthopoulou.
  • Thursday 16/09: Screening and discussion of the film Left Unsaid by Iari Varriale (Estonia), with the presence of the psychologist – psychoanalyst Dimitris Starakis.
  • Friday 17/09: Screening and discussion of the film From the Balcony by Aris Kaplanidis (Greece)

The selection criteria of the three films were shaped according to the needs and the physiognomy of the generalized discomfort that we all experience and want to highlight through the art of cinema.

The objectives of the program are:
a) to enhance the mental resilience through all the technical tools provided by cinema that have multiple levels of impact on the human psyche
b) to combat discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or religious beliefs, disability, age, or sexual orientation, to promote awareness of equality and non-discrimination.

The use of cinema as a tool in the provision of prevention and treatment has increased significantly in recent years. The access to educational and social programs aimed at mental empowerment, make necessary and imperative the mental empowerment of the general population. Cinematherapy through entertainment offers a wide range of communication possibilities mainly because it helps the viewer to manage the nature of his stress, helping to normalize the experience in conditions of generalized crisis.


43rd Drama International Short Film Festival

Cinematherapy aims to understand the theoretical background of the conditions and reception of audiovisual stimuli of films and test in practice the way cinematic stimuli are processed in order to optimize the reception and the effect/impact on the viewer/spectator. Cinema contributes significantly to the process of transfer / retransmission, as it facilitates and accelerates it. At the same time, the substantiation of mental processes in the cinematic atmosphere, the figures, the symbols and the images of the film, supports the further decoding of the psychic events.

Denise Nikolakou
(Mental health councelor-Cinematherapist)

Pawel Pawlikowski - Cinematherapy
Pawel Pawlikowski - Cinematherapy

The renowned director took part part in an open discussion on his last film, “Cold War”, moderated in Drama by cinematherapist Denise Nikolakou. The film serves as a springboard for the audience to understand the value and function of cinematherapy, and the manner in which we can process cinematic works in order to garner therapeutic elements. The Drama Film Festival hosted this project for the first time, aiming to highlight the psychotherapeutic effect a film can have on the viewer.