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The first film series on mental illness in the developing world

Afflictions: Culture & Mental Illness in Indonesia is a documentary film series that examines the lives of severely mentally ill people living on the Indonesian islands of Bali and Java. Afflictions is based on more than a decade of clinical ethnographic research conducted by documentary filmmaker and anthropologist Dr. Robert Lemelson.

Each of the six films—Memory of My Face, The Bird Dancer, Family Victim, Ritual Burdens, Shadows and Illuminations and Kites & Monsters— tells the story of the diagnosis, care and treatment an Indonesian suffering from a mental disorder and looks at the impact of culture, family and community on the course of their illness. Themes emerge with universal impact: how family members treat the mentally ill shapes outcomes, both positive and negative; culture has the power to protect and buffer the mentally ill or exacerbate their condition; to understand the experience of the mentally ill, it is essential to understand their cultural universe and values; and finally, pharmaceutical treatment can be effective or unsuccessful.

Kites and Monsters (2011)

Kites and Monsters follows Wayan Yoga, a Balinese boy, as he grows up and copes with Tourette’s Syndrome. (22 min)

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Ritual Burdens (2011)

Ritual Burdens follows Ni Ketut Kasih, a Balinese woman, whose ceremonial obligations trigger her bi-polar disorder. (25 min)

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Memory of My Face (2011)

Memory of My Face focuses on Bambang Rudjito and takes an Indonesian perspective on madness in a globalizing world. (22 min)

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Family Victim (2010)

Family Victim focuses on Estu Wardhani, a young Javanese man, who is the “bad coconut” of a highly respected Javanese family. (38 min)

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The Bird Dancer (2010)

The Bird Dancer focuses on Gusti Ayu Suartini, a young Balinese woman living with Tourette’s syndrome as she struggles for acceptance. (40 min)

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Shadows and Illuminations (2010)

Shadows and Illuminations focuses on Nyoman Kereta, a rural Balinese man in his late sixties, who is haunted by the spirit world. (35 min)

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