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ASYLUM: A History of the Mental Institution in America

THIS EMMY-NOMINATED FILM TELLS THE STORY OF ST. ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL AND CARE FOR THE MENTALLY ILL.

Synopsis

This classic, Emmy-nominated film charts the complex and controversial story of the U.S. mental institution from peaceful haven to overcrowded holding pen. ASYLUM decries the monstrously inhumane conditions that existed in mental hospitals — but concludes that deinstitutionalization must now also be considered a failure. Citing expert opinions on both sides of the issue, the documentary confronts viewers with an urgent question: Is there once again a need for the asylum?

Directed by Sarah Mondale
Produced by Sarah B. Patton and Sarah Mondale

Praise for Asylum

  • Haunting and austere. expressively photographed and scored, ASYLUM certainly qualifies as a consciousness raiser.

    - Tom Shales, The Washington Post

  • Poignant…a provocative new documentary.

    - Eddy Cockrell, Preview/The American Film Institute

  • Filmmakers Sarah Mondale and Sarah Patton get credit for presenting both sides of a volatile issue.

    - Jane Schoettle, The Toronto Globe and Mail

  • A powerful, visually stunning film. Portrays a complex subject in a moving and human fashion.

    - Charles Ray, Director, National Council of Community Mental Health Centers

  • This outstanding film gives students the background they need in order to understand the problems of the homeless mentally ill.

    - Gail DeBoer, RN, Asst. Professor of Nursing, Samuel Merritt College, CA

  • Surprisingly absorbing,  It’s a good reminder of what documentary television can be.

    - Tom Ferran, The Cleveland Plain Dealer

SCREENINGS AND PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT

ASYLUM has screened hundreds of times in film festivals around the world and venues ranging from the Kennedy Center to the National Building Museum. The film has been part of the curriculum in high schools, colleges and universities nationwide. It is considered indispensable viewing for mental health professionals and groups advocating for patients and the homeless. We make it easy to organize an event, providing everything you need to host an ASYLUM screening and start a discussion in your class or community.

On Screen Personalities

In ASYLUM, Professors David Rothman and Gerald Grob, top experts in mental health history, stake out two sides of the debate over mental institutions….

DAVID ROTHMAN - Columbia University

"We have 150 years of failure with asylums. It’s time we invested completely, thoroughly and diligently in alternatives."

GERALD GROB - Rutgers University

“To argue that we ought to abolish the asylum is unfair to people who cannot survive on their own and require some structured setting to meet their needs.”

On The Set of "Asylum"

MAJOR FUNDING FOR ASYLUM PROVIDED BY

The D.C. Community Humanities Council
The William H. Donner Foundation
The Hillsdale Fund
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
The D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities
The generous support of numerous local citizens

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