Breaking the chains

Pasung, a widespread practice in Indonesia, involves isolating the mentally ill by locking them up in household cages. While still living so close to their families, they remain completely isolated and neglected – physically and mentally – often falling into a profound stupor. They are restrained and confined in tiny spaces, just like a genie in a bottle, since pasung is rooted in the belief that the mentally ill are hosts for evil genies. In documenting this practice, Erminia Colucci, a doctor from the University of Melbourne, does not shy away from showing extreme images, though they are not the focus of her attention. The film centers around the title character, who breaks the pasung victims chains. His empathy is understandable, as he himself used to suffer from a mental disorder. He also knows just how much medication and an atmosphere of acceptance can do for the mentally ill. This is exactly what he tells their families. With support from colleagues from a non-governmental organization who, like him, have also experienced mental illness, he makes his way through a hostile jungle to reach the most remote villages. He has an ally in the Indonesian government which has launched a special program to introduce medical treatment in place of pasung. But the most difficult part is to convince people that their sick family members are not dangerous, to overcome a fear rooted in tradition, to provide medication on a regular basis, and, after so many years, to once again see the mentally ill as loved ones. (mn)
Breaking the chains / Człowiek, który zrywa łańcuchy  
65 ' , 2013 UK director: Erminia Colucci / cinematography: Ermina Colucci / editing: Ermina Colucci / production: Ermina Colucci

Screenings

CSW Sala Edukacyjna 2013-12-07 20:15
CSW Laboratory 2013-12-10 16:00
Erminia Colucci
2012 Songs of Memory, Songs of Loss
2012 The Bloody Kids
2011 Open for (more than) Business
2010 The Ballad of Des & Mo
2009 Arts and Suicide: a short documentary on a suicide survivor’s artwork
2009 Haridwar: A spiritual Journey