Remember how Tellervo mentioned her People in White project during her Yangon presentation? The piece created by people with mental illnesses, reflecting on their doctors? Well, at 9pm tonight we got to see the whole shebang.
Tellervo: After criminals and drug abusers, people with mental illness are the people with the lowest status in Finland. And the doctors have the highest status. So I became very curious about this from the point of view of those who are treated.
What can I say? It really is a rather awesome film, with loads of pathos - the inhumanity of cold medical systems towards the mentally ill; the way all trust, all agency is taken away from them - stories of false accusations, doctors recommending spouses to divorce them, being held in isolation for days on end with no justification, forced to piss on the floor like an animal. And of course the horror of the mental illness itself at times - incredible paranoia, insomnia, suicidal depression. One woman explains that she lost years of memory from electroshock therapy; she can't work anymore, either. But it's still better than wanting to kill herself everyday, she says.

The whole show's set up in the form of a group therapy session, intercut with re-enactments by the "participants" of group therapy - some are the actual patients/survivors, some are actors. It's odd, destabilising, to realise how one woman, at first consistently playing doctors, is actually a genuine survivor, who had custody of her children removed from her while being warded. Survivors playing doctors, actors playing survivors, actors playing doctors, everyone playing one another.

An exercise in empathy. Yes. No Q&A after the show: we're keeping them for her presentation tomorrow.

P.S. This film was actually preceded by Wu Wenguang's Treatment, but I've watched that already. No need for repeats.


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