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Director Wang Bing casts an understanding and non-judgmental eye on the inmates of a decrepit Chinese mental hospital in this eloquent and emotionally impactful documentary.
Shot with detailed precision, 'Til Madness
Do Us Part documents daily life inside an
isolated mental hospital in the southwest
Home to about 100 men, the decrepit
institute houses its patients in grime and
seclusion. Aged between twenty and fifty,
these men are detained for various reasons
and disorders. Some have killed. Some are
simply outsiders, forsaken by the local
government for having broken the rules.
Lonely, abandoned by relatives who seldom
visit, they look for comfort and warmth;
they look for physical affection. They kiss
and touch each other's bodies, and often, at
night, they look for someone to sleep with;
someone to share incoherent dreams of
affection on cold winter nights.
Wang Bing's visual account of the
strangeness of the institute and its ghostlike
inhabitants echoes the hypnotic
rhythm of compulsive behaviour. We watch
the exhaustive comings and goings of men
along the corridors — their repeated disjointed
gestures, their habitual smoking,
their dressing and undressing — without
ever losing attention.
The director's unique way of setting his
understanding eye over minute gestures
and apparently trivial situations eases the minds of his subjects, who engage the
camera with unprecedented candour. By
deliberately withholding judgment, Wang
actually renders a ferocious critique of the
system. The eloquent beauty he extracts
from dirty, raw material creates a new form
of plastic art — one of great visual and emotional
impact — that draws from his earlier
works such as West of the Tracks.
Special thanks to The Japan Foundation, Toronto.
- Wang Bing
- Wang Bing was born in Shaanxi
province, China. He has worked as a
producer, director, and cinematographer.
His first feature documentary,
the nine-hour West of the Tracks
(03), played at the Festival and
gained international acclaim. His
other films include He Fengming: A
Chinese Memoir (07), The Ditch (10),
and Three Sisters (12), all of which
screened at the Festival. 'Til Madness
Do Us Part is his latest documentary.