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A Long History of Madness

2011 | 120mins | Colour
By Mieke Bal & Michelle Williams Gamaker

Genre: Theoretical Fiction / Psychological Drama
Multi-lingual with English, French, Finnish, Spanish, Dutch, Russian subtitles

If your mentally ill patient dies, are you to blame?

For Dr Françoise Davoine, Parisian psychoanalyst, this question becomes disturbingly real as one of her patients, Ariste, dies. Davoine is abducted and put on trial by mediaeval fools and through the course of one hellish day - across several centuries and countries – must argue her case for exoneration.

As the journey forces Dr Davoine to question her own life, via a mix of fiction, documentary and theory, A Long History of Madness takes the viewer on a one-of-a-kind journey into the minds of the ‘mad’ and those designated to cure them.

For more information visit the film’s official website.

Publications about this project

DVD box of A Long History of Madness
The Feature disc has the release version of the film, with subtitles in six languages.
The “Extras” disc includes an introduction to the project, as well as a “making of” featurette. Also, there is a conversation between Marja (Sissi) and Marjo (Sissi’s analyst) about Sissi’s case. This is paired by an enlightening dialogue between Françoise and Thomas (Artaud, Antonin, Herlat…) about acting in multiple roles, as well as a piece that develops the analogy between music and psychoanalysis, and two more reflections on madness. The disc also includes several short scenes that didn’t make it into the final film.

How to acquire the DVD?
Instead of selling the DVD box, we ask you to support my current project, Don Quixote: Don Quixote: Sad Countenances by donating the worth of the DVD box set or more to help me finish this project. If you care to make a donation to support this endeavour, here is the deal:

For donations of 25 euro or more, you will get the double DVD set for A Long History of Madness.
For donations of 100 euro or more, you get, in addition, a catalogue of the exhibition Landscapes of Madness: an exhibition held at Ars Nova, Turku, Finland in October 2011. This exhibition features used, but also and additional footage from the film.
1) Make a donation by bank transfer:
M.G. Bal
IBAN: NL85ABNA0949591297

Gustav Mahlerlaan 10
1082 PP Amsterdam
The Netherlands

2) Send us an e-mail detailing your support (date of transfer, reference and amount), so that we know where to send you the DVD box. Please include your postal address in your message, which can be sent to:
To the amount of € 25 an additional €8 should be added for postage.
Special Screenings of earlier version Mère Folle
130’, 2010 (longer version of A Long History of Madness)
3rd International Madness and Arts Festival, Haarlem, The Netherlands, 26 September 2010
Exhibited at
“Images Moving Across the Arts and Disciplines” conference, Laterna Film Academy, Pécs, Hungary, December 11, 2010
KIZ RoyalKino (in collaboration with Kunsthaus Graz), Graz, Austria, December 8, 2010
Guggenheim Bilbao Museum, Bilbao, Spain, December 1, 2010
Fondation de Nant, Corsier sur Vevey, Switzerland, November 25, 2010
Freud Museum, Vienna, Austria, November 12, 2010
ISPS-US Annual Meeting, Austen Riggs Center, Stockbridge, MA, United States, November 6, 2010
Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, Columbia University, New York, NY, United States, November 5, 2010
Stony Brook University, Long Island, NY, United States, November 4, 2010
Tisch School of Arts, New York University, New York, NY, United States, November 3, 2010
Departments of French and Psychiatry, Yale University, Connecticut Mental Health Center, New Haven, CT, United States, November 2, 2010
Cogut Center for the Humanities, Brown University, Providence, RI, United States, November 1, 2010
“Configuring the Present across Art and Media,” ASAP conference, Universität Trier, Germany, October 29, 2010
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, October 14, 2010

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