Damian Nenadić’s first feature length documentary is a raw revelation of psychiatric illness in Croatia, using footage shot solely by the protagonists themselves.
Days of Madness
Croatia, 2018 73 minutes
«Why is borderline personality disorder classed as a disorder and nationalism not? Or transphobia?» The question is aptly asked in Damian Nenadić’s debut feature Days of Madness (2018), a documentary that shows how psychiatric illness in Croatia is compounded by heavy social stigmatisation and a lack of community-oriented therapy options.
Mladen and Maja are two individuals who have been grappling for many years with mental disorder diagnoses, and are endeavouring to build more bearable, meaningful lives in the face of minimal family support or understanding and a state health system poorly equipped to cater to their needs. In focusing on their everyday lived realities rather than authorised «experts» spouting official versions, the film does positive work in validating them as the spokespeople of their own experiences, even as the intimate, observational approach does not shy away from the more disturbing aspects of their anguished volatility.
While self-harm and suicidal tendencies mean Maja’s fourteenth hospital stay, Nenadić avoids the air of sensationalistic exploitation so often problematic in cinema that enters into psych wards, handing the camera over to his protagonists so that they can have agency in what they would like to show. The resulting hours of footage – technically amateurish but feeling all the more raw and unmediated for it – have been edited into a holistic affirmation of all parts of the human psyche, and as an ultimately optimistic narrative of acceptance and recovery.
Alarming usage of schizophrenia