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Winner of SCINEMA Junior – Animal Therapy

Winner of SCINEMA Junior – Animal Therapy

Animal Therapy is a short film exploring how animals affect mental health.


They say that dogs are our best friends (and cats think they’re our masters). But beyond being loyal companions, our animal friends may be a powerful part of our recovery from physical and mental health problems.

To investigate this more, young filmmaker Caitlin Vass interviewed ten people to find out their impressions of animal therapy. Those interviews formed the basis of Animal Therapy, her film which has taken home the SCINEMA Junior Award, for filmmakers under the age of 17.

“It was a great effort from such a young filmmaker!” says SCINEMA judge Casey Harrigan.

The Adelaide-based school student created an entirely handmade film, with hand drawn animations and visualisations that complemented her voice over. From the effects they have on the people, to investigating the resulting releases of neurotransmitters oxytocin and cortisol, Caitlin delivers a video that comprehensively covers the topic and how it can help people.

“It’s a message to parents, and kids to tell parents, that animals really do help mental health,” says Caitlin.

But the benefits are far more than just in the brain, she found. The animal companions often helped encourage the people to exercise more, build their self-confidence, and spark connections with others.

Across hospitals, schools and aged-care facilities, we’re likely to see more animal therapies being used in the future.

“When I entered SCINEMA I didn’t think I’d win – it’s a big international competition. But if you don’t enter you won’t win. If you do enter, you might.”

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For more details about the individual films, visit the Award Winners page.

Entries for SCINEMA Junior 2021 will open in September 2020.

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