Nov 8 - Film about Coquitlam’s Essondale asylum premieres at Douglas College Nov. 15Riverview Hospital) debunks the notion that the mental institutions of old were dark and terrifying places - or does it?
Premiering at Douglas College's Coquitlam Campus Nov. 15, Consciousness is a 25-minute film produced by Heidi Currie, Criminology instructor at Douglas, and Anna Tremere of the Riverview Hospital Historical Society. It will be shown in room A1470 at 7pm. The screening is free, open to the public and will be followed by a Q+A session and refreshments.
Consciousness tells the story of Dr. Ralph Arrowsmith, a mid-20th century psychiatrist with a life-long connection to Coquitlam's Riverview Hospital, a mental institution that opened in 1913 and closed last summer.
Dr. Arrowsmith, who was passionate about the psychiatric movement and deeply committed to his patients, recounts his years of practice with frank discussions of the treatment and perception of the mentally ill at the iconic mental hospital, from the peak of the institutional movement through deinstitutionalization.
"To hear from somebody who spent his professional life at Riverview and became medical director there is fascinating, because the asylum system no longer exists," says Currie. "This film gives us insight into the real hospital - that goes beyond stereotypes."
But Currie also points out that while popular impressions about asylums are overblown, the institutions could in fact be terrifying places.
"People like it to be scary," she says. "And it is kind of scary. In this film we have this loving, wonderful, even endearing psychiatrist who tells his story, but underneath, as he describes his years at the hospital, are jolting examples of what sometimes made it a terrifying place."
Dr. Arrowsmith, along with Currie, Tremere and the director of Consciousness, lisa g, will be in attendance.
Featuring archival film and photography combined with re-creation footage, Consciousness is part three of the Riverview Hospital Story Project. Look for part one, Asylum, and part two, Bedlam, on Vimeo.
604 527 5786