‘Til Madness Do Us Part: Inside a Chinese Mental Institution

February 17, 2014 | Marina Galperina

Wang Bing’s doc ‘Til Madness Do Us Part will be screening at MoMA this Wednesday, as part of  Documentary Fortnight 2014, the museum’s international festival of nonfiction film and media. Gleaned from 300 hours of footage, the film provides an unyielding, four-hour long look inside a mental institution in the Yunnan Province of China.

Like the clip above, the documentary focuses on the daily routines, regular compulsions and social interactions of the hospital’s inmates-patients, almost never leaving their cramped quarters. The film experience itself is difficult, its form and length serving as a deliberate echo of its subject matter. Twitch explains:

Although the institution depicted here is nominally for the mentally ill, many different people are housed here; murderers and the truly mentally ill are housed side by side with those imprisoned for drug offenses, people with developmental disabilities, as well as those who have caused trouble to their families, or who have angered government officials. This creates a rudimentary sort of democracy, where the harsh, unsanitary conditions – the men regularly urinate in their rooms and in the hallways – and the sheer monotony of existence devolve into trapped despair.

‘Til Madness Do Us Part screens on February 19th at 6:30pm.