The Latvian film Troubled Minds is probably one of the more challenging films we’ve featured, but I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing. Its loose, naturalistic style sometimes feels a bit overwhelming, like when you’re confronted with the noise of a bar fight longer than you think you should be in a movie, or when you’re faced with a shaky close-up of a suffering face. It feels a little too close for comfort, a little too real.
Based on my own personal experience, I could tell that sibling co-directors and co-writers Raitis and Lauris Abele were intimately familiar with bipolar disorder. This movie features what I think is the most accurate on-screen depiction I’ve ever seen of a character’s gradual descent (or should I say ascent?) into mania. As the Abele brothers say in their interview, most script doctors would have looked at the character Martin’s thoughts and words as the movie progressed and said they didn’t make any sense—his mind is suddenly latching onto the military waste buried in the deep sea, now that’s important, and now it’s the shifting of the geomagnetic poles that’s important, but wait now he’s back again or it’s both…..Mania can really be like that, though. Suddenly everything seems very important and every thing seems connected to every other thing in secret, important ways you never noticed before.
That’s one thing the Abele brothers get right, too: sometimes mania can be kind of funny. The movie is also a colorful, often comedic satire of the contemporary art world, and the co-creators said that part of that intention was to further blur the line between what’s really normal and what’s not in a setting where it’s much harder to tell. Some people endlessly roll a black boulder up a mountain like in the myth of Sisyphus, they say, while some are destined to roll a black cube.
You’ve still got time to check out the completely unique film Troubled Minds in the virtual festival for free:
Also check out our interview with the Abele brothers, where they talk about experiences with their friends who are contemporary artists and their friends who have bipolar disorder, and how those experiences helped shape the film.