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New Zealand International Film Festival

July to November NZ wide | TVNZ

Asylum Pieces: Film Festival

Asylum Pieces

New Zealand 2010, 75m
Director: Kathy Dudding

Changes in official attitudes to mental illness are reflected in the architectural history of the New Zealand psychiatric institutions in Kathryn Dudding's delicately layered, emotionally loaded essay film. Dudding's film takes off from an unfinished photographic project undertaken with a partner who didn't stay around to see it through. Photographs of the abandoned Porirua Asylum would, emulating a Japanese tradition, evoke the poignance of impermanence and the passage of human suffering.

Keeping faith with the aesthetic, Dudding expands and politicises the project. She incorporates fragments of the public record - archival films, public documents, literature - which signify shifts in fashion and policy until asylum walls have been dismantled, and the depressed and tormented sent back into the 'community'. The polemic that emerges has a tragic cadence. Will our current reliance on the pharmaceutical industry look any less arbitrary or destructive a social construction to future generations than the straitjacket and EST look now? - BG