Join us for an evening with Jeffrey Babcock where we shall explore a series of underground, almost forgotten films, that explore the themes of self autonomy that align with the motif of Grace’s exhibition.
TITICUT FOLLIES 1967
Directed by Frederick Wiseman
84 minutes – In English
This is the outrageous and legendary documentary by Frederick Wiseman that after a few initial screenings was officially banned in the United States for the next 25 years. In fact, one American judge ordered all copies of it to be destroyed. What is it? It’s Wiseman’s first film, and it’s an examination of a hospital for the criminally insane at Bridgewater, Massachusetts. What do we see? The feel-good American humanitarian dream? No we see the dark side, we see scores of people treated like trash, belligerent guards, creepy doctors, brutal conditions, we see people harassed for things like stress, depression, and crimes like theft, and accused of sexual ‘perversions’ like masturbation and homosexuality, and very often you even feel the only reason certain individuals are locked away is racism. We of course see the scary conditions these people live in, but what we also have is a critique of our society and how it treats anyone who doesn’t fit the norm.
Let’s be clear, this documentary is not candy-coated, but ruthlessly sincere and wicked. Without narration to persuade us, it depicts a hell – the type of place where if you weren’t mad before you entered its doors, you would be after a few days. The film simply makes one’s head spin. Considered one of the most audacious and important documentaries of all time, both in it’s aesthetics and theme. It is shot in grainy black-and-white, lending it an immense dark poetry in its pureness. What a moving film.
Let’s be clear: this is one of the most important documentaries ever made, but is rarely shown because of its touchy subject matter…. I consider it a real piece of art, so hope to see you there.