Publications and Research

Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date

Winter 2015


It has become evident that film has the ability to invoke changes in a society. The social issue of the treatment of the mentally ill has always been the subject of films, although many films of past appear exploitative, sensationalist, crude, and ignorant of the realities of the issues being represented. In 1967, Frederick Wiseman’s film, The Titicut Follies, despite winning numerous awards, created such controversy that it became the only film to be banned in the United States for reasons other than obscenity and national security until 1991. The film revealed gross mistreatment of the mentally ill in a state psychiatric facility. This essay posits that the influential and groundbreaking work was a major step not only in filmmaking but in the way filmmaking can reveal and reflect truths, and invoke social change. In a sense, Wiseman changed the paradigm of filmmaking and the documenting of reality.



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