Titicut Follies

Frederick Wiseman, USA, 1967, black and white, 16mm, 84'

Frederick Wiseman made his first documentary, Titicut Follies, in 1967. He locked himself up in the Bridgewater State Hospital in Massachusetts, a psychiatric clinic for convicted criminals. Wiseman had the full cooperation of the authorities, but once they had seen the film, they were furious and turned against him. Controversies concerning the violation of the detainees' privacy led to numerous lawsuits, and Titicut Follies only gets screened occasionally as a result. The documentary is a shocking portrayal of the treatment of the psychiatric patients, not only by hospital staff, but by society in general. It also serves as a blueprint for Wiseman's later work, in which he has repeatedly taken an American institution -- the high school, a military training center -- and held it up to the light. Wiseman films the humiliating, repressive practices without comment or talking heads, in a fashion that has become his trademark. The images speak for themselves. A prisoner who tries to convince his doctor that his treatment is all wrong does not end up with less antidepressants, but more. In this hospital, there is no attempt to make people better -- instead, it is all about power.

IDFA Forum selection announced October 13, 2015 | The complete list of projects selected for IDFA Forum 2015 has been announced.
IDFA 2015 Line-Up Announced October 9, 2015 | The complete list of selected films for IDFA 2015, in alphabetical order, is now online. The full screening schedule will be available from November 5.
Looking at documentary sound October 6, 2015 | Sound in the documentary will be the central theme of the Sounds Real program. IDFA has invited five international sound designers to choose two documentaries with exceptional sound design: one of their own, and one by a colleague.
Opening film: A Family Affair by Tom Fassaert September 22, 2015 | The 28th edition of IDFA will open with A Family Affair by Dutch director Tom Fassaert, an exploration of the director's own delicate family history.


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