Breaking the Chains

© Colucci
64 minutes / Colour / 2015
Directed by
Erminia Colucci

Anthropologist Erminia Colucci

Country of production Indonesia United Kingdom Italy Australia

The practice of using shackles and chains to physically restrain people with mental illness (known as pasung) is widespread in Indonesia (as in many other developing/low middle income countries) and almost universally ignored. This observational ethnographic documentary explores the beliefs and social norms regarding pasung and tells an original story about the social and political activism to free people from this practice and the process that leads to the release of victims of pasung such as Yayah, a young woman who has been chained inside a small room for 17 years. In particular, the film follows the activities that have been initiated by an organization in Cianjur (West Java) that is led and run by people with mental health problems.

This film researches an important topic (faith-based practices for mental suffering) that is under-researched in medical anthropology and is a rare example of applied visual ethnography in the field.

In the 2017 RAI Film Fest Student

Language and subtitles Bahasa Indonesian, Sundanese, Arabic, Italian with English Subtitles

Location(s) depicted Indonesia

Region South-East Asia

Country Indonesia

Keywords Prison Health / Health care / Healing Political Activists Development projects

Film web site