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Movements and Madness: The Entanglements of Culture and Neuropsychiatric Disorders in Bali

Film screening and discussion with anthropologist and executive producer Robert Lemelson and film maker Dag Yngvesson

Tuesday, January 30, 2007
3:00 PM - 5:00 PM
6275 Bunche Hall (6th floor)
UCLA Campus
Los Angeles, CA 90095

"Movements and Madness Part 1: Gusti Ayu"
Shot over the course of 8 years, "Movements and Madness" is an hour-long documentary following the life of Gusti Ayu, a young Balinese woman suffering from severe Tourette's syndrome, a neuropsychiatric illness which causes constant bursts of uncontrollable movements, sounds, and compulsions. Born into a society that has no name or category with which to place her disorder, Gusti's chronic, socially awkward jerking, spitting, and swearing are seen as evidence that she is either wanting for attention, or simply crazy. As a result she's become something of an outcaste, spending much of her life shuttered inside her family compound. Gusti's despair over her stigmatized and debilitating condition has led her to the brink of suicide.
Conducting research on the outcome of brain disorders in Bali, Anthropologist Robert Lemelson meets Gusti through a local psychiatrist, who has advised her family to begin treatment with medication that will helpcontrol her movements. At first the treatment seems to work, and Gusti gains confidence, finding a job and new friends outside of her village. However, as is the nature of Tourette's, the symptoms wax and wane but never disappear. Having expected a full recovery, Gusti's family begins to doubt the legitimacy of the psychiatrist's methods. Canceling her treatment, they turn once again to the advice of neighbors, Hindu priests, and traditional healers, determined to help Gusti using resources from within the community. But her condition only worsens, and she is finally forced to leave work and return to her shuttered life at home.

For nearly a decade Lemelson repeatedly visits and interviews the family, seeing Gusti's perspective on her illness begin to diverge and conflict with that of her relatives'. Eventually finding himself entangled in their increasingly polarized debates over her condition, Lemelson is forced to rethink his role as a detached observer, becoming personally involved in helping Gusti gain understanding and acceptance from those around her, as well as the chance to shape her own destiny. Finally Gusti agrees to a screening of "Movements and Madness" in her community. Watching herself and having a discussion in a public question and answer after the screening, helps lead Gusti to a new, and more hopeful, perspective of her future.

For information on the film please go to

Executive Producer Robert Lemelson is an anthropologist who received his master's degree from the University of Chicago and his doctoral degree from the University of California-Los Angeles. Currently he is a lecturer in the departments of psychology and anthropology at UCLA. He was a Fulbright scholar in Indonesia in 1996-97, has worked for the World Health Organization, and is additionally trained as a clinical psychologist. His areas of specialty are Southeast-Asian studies, psychological anthropology, and transcultural psychiatry. Dr. Lemelson has just released a documentary film "Movements and Madness" to festivals, which is based on his research in Bali. It will be in general release later this year. He has two other films in post-production, all filmed in Indonesia. He has recently published his research on Indonesia in the journals Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, Medical Anthropology Quarterly, and Transcultural Psychiatry, among others. His edited volume Understanding Trauma: Biological, Clinical and Cultural Perspectives will be published in early 2007 by Cambridge University Press. He is also the president of the Foundation for Psychocultural Research (The FPR), which funds interdisciplinary research in neuroscience, psychiatry, and anthropology. Dr. Lemelson also serves as a director of The Lemelson Foundation, a family foundation whose mission is to promote innovation and invention in American society and the developing world.

Dag Yngvesson (Director, Cinematographer, Editor) lives in Los Angeles and works in various fringes of the movie industry. He made his first films while studying film and anthropology as an undergraduate at Pitzer and Hampshire colleges; fluent in Swedish as well as Russian, he produced, directed and edited "The Kaos Company," a one-hour documentary on squatters in Gothenburg, Sweden, as well as "Making Skateboards in New Russia," a short subject documentary on skateboarder/entrepreneurs after the fall of communism in St. Petersburg (both 1992). In 2000 Dag finished  "Rated X; A Journey Through Porn,"  a feature length documentary on the porno film industry in Los Angeles which he directed, produced, and edited. The film played to sellout crowds and strong reviews in festivals all over the world, including South by Southwest, the Florida Film Festival, and the Stockholm Film Festival, and was picked up for distribution by Pathfinder Pictures in Los Angeles. Dag's greatest passion lies in documentary filmmaking, but while working as much as possible on his own projects he helps pay the bills by shooting/directing and editing skateboard films, most recently the ongoing documentary based series "ON Video Skateboarding." He also often collaborates on shooting music videos, recently working as second camera for DP Lance Accord and director Roman Coppola on the Fatboy Slim music video for "Praise You," starring director Spike Jonze, and with DP Scott Hendrickson and director Roman Coppola on the Daft Punk music video for "Revolution 909." For the last three years Dag has been co-directing a series of ethnographic films dealing with culture and mental illness in Indonesia, together with anthropologist Dr. Robert Lemelson (UCLA).

Parking in UCLA's Lot 3 costs $8.

Cost : Free and open to the public.

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Sponsor(s): Center for Southeast Asian Studies