Saturday, November 22, 2008


AUTHOR'S NOTE: On November 20th, the Author and his friend Grace Lorraine went to a film at the Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque. It was a very powerful documentary about mental health and the reformed Spanish mental health system. And it is a deep look into the lives of the mentally ill, the fascist mental health system of Spain that existed under the fascist dictator Franco, and the evil uses of such a system in that totalitarian state.

And perhaps synchronistically enough, November 20th was the 33rd Anniversary of the death of Generalissimo Franco.

Posted below is Grace's penetrating and elegant review of the film, as posted on Duke City Fix.

The Great Bear Minus Two intimately shows the lives of institutionalized mental health patients in Leganes, Spain. (The film was in Spanish, of course, with English subtitles.)

Reznak graciously answered all the audience's questions, in English, with a lovely lilting accent for the couple who were not "de habla hispana nativo." (Did Babelfish translate "native Spanish speaking" elegantly? I thought I remembered "hablohispantes" as the idiomatic expression.) An inquiry to his motives for making this film elicited a multi-faceted response.

Reznek was inspired by films from the late 60's that looked at mental health care. He also thought the medium of film was most expressive and capable of capturing the complexity of experiences of the people. Furthermore, the stories of these patients is a worthwhile cause; he cares about letting an audience into their world. Sometime ago, there was a very sensationalistic view made of this facility in an effort to de-institutionalize patients.

The preceding works made it difficult for him to gain access. Reznek said his friend paved the way, with the director of the hospital, to allowing him to shoot this movie. But many red tape issues also complicated his filming. Releases from the patients, and sometimes the families of the patients, needed to be secured.

Furthermore, the very large 16mm Arriflex camera, with an enormous zoom lens, intimidates practically anybody. Reznak spent weeks on location with the equipment, running no film, in order for people to get comfortable with its presence. At one point in the 18-month process of filming, he had to take a 12-week break because a patient with schizophrenia developed intense paranoia regarding the work.

In my opinion, the work is disturbing, genuine and touching. During one of their field trips, a female patient beautifully sang "I'm afraid, afraid, afraid to fall in love."

"La osa mayor menos dos" makes me afraid to go insane.


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