Shot in 1966 in a facility for the criminally insane in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, whose sadistic approach to ‘care’ seems straight out of the Middle Ages, Titicut Follies was banned from general American distribution until 1991.
'Its depiction… of the inhumane treatment of the inmates remains powerful and shocking today and the reasons for the State’s vehement legal action – that Wiseman allegedly invaded the privacy of both inmates and guards – seems like a black joke. Wiseman has always argued that he obtained consent from all involved at the time of filming. He tried several times in the next 24 years to have the film 'sprung’ as he called it, to no avail' – Paul Byrnes, Sydney Film Festival catalogue, 1992
‘A principled and gravely disturbing look into the void… Now, 50 years later, the film can be seen for what it was: a work of political art and moral courage’ – Manohla Dargis, New York Times
‘His first film is a hellish descent into a Massachusetts institution for the criminally insane where, it would seem, the lunatics have taken over the asylum. The editing often purposefully blurs the distinction between patient (some irretrievably deranged, some desperately lucid) and doctor’ – Jessica Winter, Time Out
Presented in partnership with the Sydney Film Festival and ACMI.
See more films in our season It Takes Time: 10 Films by Frederick Wiseman.
PLAN YOUR VISIT
Be rewarded for every paid screening, event or exhibition at the NFSA every time you visit. Your seventh visit is free. More details on Club NFSA at our Ticketing page.