The Loft Cinema

Exterior of the Loft Cinema in Tucson, AZ. in Tucson, AZ. Photo taken Monday, December 28, 2015. Photo by Ron Medvescek / Arizona Daily Star.

The Loft Cinema commemorates May — National Mental Health Month — with a screening of the landmark 1967 documentary "Titicut Follies," directed by 2016 Honorary Oscar-winner Frederick Wiseman,  in a newly-restored 50th anniversary edition, on Tuesday, May 2.  

This Science on Screen event will feature an introduction by psychologist Patricia Harrison Monroe, director of the Epicenter (Early Psychosis Intervention Center) at the University of Arizona, which deals with serious mental illness in young adults. Harrison will discuss the treatment of mental illness in the 1960s-era of the film versus today.

Science on Screen, an ongoing series at The Loft Cinema, is an initiative of the Coolidge Corner Theatre, with major support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.    

In his legendary first documentary, cinéma vérité master Frederick Wiseman leads the audience into the MCI-Bridgewater mental institution, a prison-hospital for the criminally insane run by the Massachusetts Department of Corrections. Wiseman shows, without judgment, the unsettling abuse of inmates as they are needlessly stripped bare, insulted, herded about, mocked, and taunted.

His portrayal of the guards is equally intimate and disturbing; there's a sense of horror that the daily routine can work with such good humor, efficiency, and brutality. The film won critical acclaim after its 1967 premiere at the New York Film Festival, but it also caused a huge outcry; the State of Massachusetts sought to prevent its further distribution after government officials objected to the film’s startling depiction of guards and inmates, ultimately obtaining a court order that restricted its exhibition: only members of the health-care, legal, or social work professions, or students in those fields, could legally see it.

It was not until 1991, after 24 years of censorship (and after the film helped shut down the MCI-Bridgewater mental institution for the archaic practices it exposed), that "Titicut Follies" was released again to the general public, at which point its status as a groundbreaking landmark in the history of social justice documentary filmmaking was secured. The film, directed by Frederick Wiseman, is not rated and runs 84 minutes.

 Source: Loft Cinema