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Short Description

This project aims to study the cultural history of cinematographic practices in the field of (neuro)psychiatry in Switzerland, based on a corpus of films made in and around the Waldau psychiatric hospital in Berne, between 1920 and 1970. The main aim is to highlight the major role played, both nationally and transnationally, by the Waldau in the use of the film medium for research, teaching and scientific promotion. In addition to paper archives, the project will analyze several filmic corpuses, including the 97 short films produced on the initiative of psychiatrist Ernst Grünthal between 1934 and 1965 at the Hirnanatomisches Institut of the Waldau psychiatric hospital (deposited at the Cinémathèque suisse). The scope and homogeneity of these collections provide a unique opportunity to examine the historical and epistemological issues surrounding the use of film in the mental health sector, both in Switzerland and abroad.

We'll be looking at the conditions of possibility, the functions and the particularities (semantic and aesthetic) of these objects. What do these films say about illness, patients, doctors and psychiatric institutions, and, conversely, what do they reveal about cinema as a tool for constructing observed phenomena? What perspective(s) do they construct on psychiatric and neurological disorders, and on the ethos of doctors? To answer these questions, we'll need to dispel a number of preconceived ideas, showing that these artifacts are crossroads objects at the intersection of medicine and (audio)visual culture, and as such, belong as much to scientific cinema as to cinematographic art.These films have not yet been the subject of research, notably because of the difficulty of accessing them, data confidentiality issues and their material fragility, but they deserve to be studied not only for their inestimable heritage value, but also for the nodal place they occupy in the European history of medical film.

These archives are approached from two angles: firstly, the history of neuropsychiatric film: on the one hand, the history of neuropsychiatric film, which over the last twenty years has been enriched by the discovery of productions thought to have disappeared, following the example of the Magnus-Rademaker collection in the Netherlands; and, on the other, the field of utilitarian film (known as "useful cinema" or "Gebrauchsfilm"), which has made it possible to valorize works long neglected by the canonical history of cinema due to their marginal nature. In order to develop the various aspects of the research, the project is organized around three topics: Topic 1: "Ernst Grünthal's neuropsychiatric films at the Waldau Hirnanatomisches Institut (1930-1960)", which examines the contribution of the psychiatrist (who founded the Laboratoire d'anatomie cérébrale/LAC in 1934) to the development of practices and knowledge relating to psychiatry and cinema in Switzerland. Topic 2: Exchanges between the Waldau and the Cery psychiatric hospital (Lausanne), notably through the figure of Hans Heimann, as well as institutional films and films devoted to work therapy, typical "genres" of medical film. Topic 3: "Imagining madness. Waldau films between science and fiction", which studies the "fictionalizing" or "narrativizing" uses of the cinematographic device to stage and narrate a certain image of madness. The project will result in a doctoral thesis, a collective work, a journal issue, a monograph, several individual publications and an exhibition, as well as the preservation and enhancement of an archive by digitizing the films themselves.Collaboration with European partners will consolidate the investigation through the exchange of information, methods and resources.This project is part of the UNIL + Cinémathèque suisse collaboration, which aims to strengthen links between the two institutions.

Film utilitaire, cinéma, psychiatrie, neurologie, médecine, Switzerland, recherche, enseignement, Waldau, Ernst Grünthal

Film utilitaire, cinéma, psychiatrie, neurologie, médecine, Switzerland, recherche, enseignement, Waldau, Ernst Grünthal


Cinéma et (neuro)psychiatrie en Suisse : autour de la collection Waldau (1920-1990)

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