Film: Getting under their skin

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December 6, 2016 14:22

‘Open Ward,’ an intriguing documentary, takes a different look at life in a psychiatric institution.




Abarbanel Mental Health Center

Igor, who hears voices telling him he is one of the best rappers in the world, on the set of a rap video clip he produced as part of a drama therapy workshop for patients at the Abarbanel Mental Health Center. (photo credit: COURTESY OF MUSE PRODUCTIONS)

Filmmakers have not always been kind to the mentally ill.

Movies that focus on psychiatric patients, such as the 1970s hit, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” or the recent Italian comedy, “Like Crazy,” tend to poke fun at the antics of the characters. Even if there is a layer of social commentary, such as the way “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” satirizes the iron-fisted regimentation of an American psychiatric institution, or the way that “Like Crazy” suggests that it is exploitive male behavior that leads to the hospitalization of the movie’s heroines, negative stereotypes of the mentally ill prevail.

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