0.9 Ampere

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) was first administered over 70 years ago. The amount of electric charge required to induce a seizure in the original human subject was 0.9 ampere, a detail that generates the title of this recently-released Italian documentary, written and directed by Giotto Barbieri.

Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Roméo Dallaire

The film Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Roméo Dallaire is indeed very much the personal journey of Canadian Lt. General Roméo Dallaire. In 1994, 800,000 Rwandan men, women and children, mostly Tutsis, were brutally murdered by vengeful Hutus in a chaotic 100 days of civil war and genocide. Dallaire was the UN Force Commander in Rwanda during that time. Since then, he has been haunted by those events and by what he views as his own, and humanity’s, failure to stop the killings. The personal toil has been enormous and very public – suicide attempts, depression, alcohol abuse, and the almost unbearable haunting recollections that occur with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The Sterilization of Leilani Muir (1996)

In the late 1920s and early 1930s, the Alberta and BC governments passed legislation that allowed for the forced sterilization of the mentally ill or defective. By the time the Acts were repealed, shockingly not until the early 1970s, the lives of nearly 4000 individuals were irrevocably altered.

Primo Amore (First Love)

Anorexia nervosa can be a devastating and chronic disorder associated with significant morbidity and mortality. A recent film dealing with anorexia nervosa is “Primo Amore” or First Love.. This Italian production directed by Matteo Garrone revolves around the relationship of Sonia (Michela Cescon) and Vittorio (Vitaliano Trevisan).

Love is the Devil – Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon (1998)

Francis Bacon (1909-1992) is often regarded as the greatest of the modern British painters, best known for painting bleak and grotesque portraits with gruesome distorted limbs and physiognomies, particularly in the aftermath of World War II, when modernist art movements underwent cataclysmic shifts.

The Devil and Daniel Johnston (2005)

Most reviews of The Devil and Daniel Johnston contain the word heartbreaking. The film chronicles the life of Daniel Johnston, a singer/songwriter and cartoonist whose previous widest public exposure occurred at the 1992 MTV Music Awards when Nirvana leader Kurt Cobain wore a T-shirt with a Johnston drawing. Unfortunately, Daniel Johnston’s musical career was derailed early by a severe psychiatric illness, and this documentary relentlessly captures the history of both his mental instability and his artistic talents.

Keanne (2004)

Keane is director Lodge Kerrigan’s third feature film and was executively produced by Steven Soderbergh. Considered by the Austin Chronicle as “one of the great, though largely unheralded, filmmakers of our time,” Kerrigan’s two previous films are Clean, Shaven (1994) – about an individual with schizophrenia attempting to reclaim his daughter from her adoptive family, and Claire Dolan (1998) – the story of an Irish immigrant prostitute who works in Manhattan.

I am a Sex Addict (2005)

There seems to be something paradoxical about the concept of sexual addiction. Addictions are supposed to be associated with clinically significant impairment or distress. And what could possibly be distressing about repetitive sexual activity – virtually everyone’s adolescent fantasy? Well – meet Caveh Zahedi and his highly personal film I am a Sex Addict in which Zahedi plays himself on the occasion of his third marriage. Speaking directly to his audience, we learn from a now 43-year-old Zahedi that all his other relationships have been ruined because of his habit of visiting prostitutes and then sharing that information with his partner of the moment.

The Alma Drawings (2005)

Alma Rumball was born in Huntsville, Ontario in 1902. Raised as a devout Christian, she lived a quiet and unremarkable life in rural Canada until she was about 50 and spent the next 25 years of her life obsessively and single-mindedly creating thousands of intricate line drawings and paintings. Adding to this bizarre tale, Alma denied conscious knowledge of her artwork and denied authorship—and even stranger yet, she received critical acclaim for her talents.

Zelig (1983)

Zelig is a Woody Allen film classic worth revisiting. It is the story of Leonard Zelig, a man who can seamlessly adopt the identities of those around him.