During the Second World War, 45,000 psychiatric patients died in French hospitals. Only one facility opposed the carnage: the asylum in Saint-Alban, a village in central France.
At Saint-Alban, doctors, patients, nuns, and nurses worked side by side, for the survival of all. The doctors led a whole community in elaborating a new conception of psychiatry and the madman’s role in society.
The fight against the Nazi oppressor changed into a fight against all forms of oppression and confinement. Saint-Alban became the crucible of the “institutional psychotherapy” movement that revolutionized postwar psychiatric care.
Made up of film and sound archives and photographs discovered at the hospital, the film immerses us in the intensity of a reinvented institutional routine.