This discussion, to take place at the end of May, will follow a screening of the documentary “Kings Park: Stories from an American Mental Institution” by filmmaker Lucy Winer. I asked Winer for an advance screener copy of her film, which I received yesterday and immediately sat down to watch. The film is so compelling, so honest, and so horrifying at the same time, at least for anyone who’s been incarcerated in any sort of mental illness cage for any length of time, I called Winer to tell that her film is “fucking amazing.”
Perhaps this was not the most eloquent of descriptions, but it’s hard to put into words all of what “Kings Park” conveys.
The film explores Winer’s past (she was incarcerated at Kings Park, an enormous psychiatric facility on Long Island, twice for six month stints when she was 17) as well as the “deinstitutionalization” of individuals with mental illness and the closing of large hospitals in New York state (and nationwide), especially in the 80s & 90s.
“Kings Park” includes various stories of other inmates along with a range of people who worked at the institution (psychiatrists, attendants, therapists) all of whom have their own stories — sometimes even conflicting with the overall narrative of the film, which is that warehousing and intimidating (and even murdering) inmates/patients is not effective”treatment” or “care” even for those who are mentally ill (and many in Kings Park — as elsewhere — were not). One former attendant considered Kings Park a “paradise” — it was his home for several decades, both his personal and professional life flourished there, and he lived in what he considered a palace. Kings Park was once a collection of giant buildings sitting on approximately 850 acres of a scenic, secluded woodland. For others it was hell, including people who went in for no reason but being orphans (as were some workers) or too-hard-to-handle kids from group homes, teenagers already abused by various systems invented to help them, who were then betrayed by those systems for an even worse one: Kings Park.
That’s all I’m going to write about “Kings Park” right now. I’ve linked to the movie site above, there is an excellent trailer you can view, check for (or organize!) a screening event near you. You can also purchase the film for yourself, or if you work are affiliated with any type of school or educational/academic institution, hospital or community organization or public (or private) library, you can purchase the film for your specific group. All proceeds from sales of the movie support outreach efforts.
And, I’d be negligent — and a bad publicist — if I didn’t include a listing of the specific event where I will be a part of the discussion:
Paradigm Shift NYC presents Mental Health Care: A Painful Legacy and Today’s Crisis, screening & discussion with Lucy Winer, filmmaker, “Kings Park” and Stephanie Schroeder, author, “Beautiful Wreck: Sex, Lies & Suicide” — Thursday, May 23, 2013 @ 6:30-9:15pm @ The Tank, 151 West 46th Street, NYC. Tickets will be available soon and are $12 online (through brown paper bag tickets) and $15 at the door. Buy early and buy online, this event is going to sell out!!!!