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The Festival Directors

We are Elisabeth Staak & Anna Maria Ortese, two female filmmakers based in Berlin and Potsdam who have a passion for the art of filmmaking. We are both working in different fields of film and bring our personal expertise to the festival. The issue of mental health has always been very important to us and we often see its portrayal in movies as stigmatizing and trivializing.

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Elisabeth Staak

Festival Founder & Content Manager

Elisabeth Staak is a German filmmaker, Fulbright alumni, dubbing manager and writer who holds a Master’s degree in Linguistics, Literary Studies and Film Studies. From 2016 to 2019 she was based in Kansas City and New York in the United States of America where she collaborated as screenwriter, producer, director, cinematographer and editor on various film and theater productions. Since 2019, she has been based in Potsdam/Berlin as a dubbing manager through which she gained experience in casting, directing and editorial work on many acclaimed television shows. From 2018 forward she has also been a volunteer for the Goethe Institute’s German for Hire program for which she has been visiting many educational institutions in the United States as an ambassador for German language and culture.  Since May 2020, she is one of the founders of the Go Mental! International Short Film Festival where she focuses primarily on content management.

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Anna Maria Ortese

Festival Founder & Communications Manager

Anna Maria Ortese is a German-Italian filmmaker with a Bachelor degree in cultural studies.  She has worked on various art and cultural projects in Berlin and as an art consultant in a renowned photo gallery. Since 2019, she started focusing entirely on filmmaking. She worked as a producer and assistant producer on several short film productions and as a producer and co writer for the german television channel ZDF in the field of investigative journalism. In 2019, she also started developing her first feature length documentary that deals with the social impact of art combined with activism. Since May 2020, she is one of the founders of the Go Mental! International Short Film Festival where she focuses primarily on communication management.



Benedikt Toniolo

Creative Director

Benedikt Toniolo is a German animator and director of short films.

He is alumni of the Dipl. Animation and MA Animation Directing programs at the Film University Babelsberg KONRAD WOLF. Since 2019 he works as an independent artist in the fields of animation, directing, book illustration and graphic design.

Since June 2020 he supports Go Mental! as creative director.


Stella Römhildt

Communication & Social Media Assistant

Stella Römhildt is a German UX researcher and designer.

She has a bachelor degree in English and American Studies and Master in International Business, as well as training in UX design. After working as a project manager for several years, she now works as a UX designer for a mental health startup.

Since April 2022 she supports Go Mental! as communication & social media assistant.