In the Saint-Alban psychiatric clinic in the Lozère region of France, they didn't use straightjackets, solitary confinement or other forms of coercion. Patients moved around freely, received ergonomic therapy, worked at a nearby farm and even went on trips with their supervisors. During World War II, the institute also housed refugees, including Jews.
Using recently discovered archival material, this fascinating documentary presents the instigators of this unconventional policy between 1936 and the mid-1970s: Spanish Dr. Tosquelles, a communist persecuted by Franco, and his colleague Lucien Bonaffé, both of them pioneers of 'institutional psychology'. They emphasised social and cultural activities that stimulated patients in many different ways – a fruitful approach that has since fallen out of favour, but which was also a source of inspiration for Surrealists like Paul Éluard, Art Brut pioneer Jean Dubuffet and the trailblazer for de-colonisation theories, Frantz Fanon.