Breaking the Chains – Advance Preview Screening

Breaking the Chains tickets

Arts in Action proudly presents an advanced preview screening of “Breaking the Chains” – an eye opening ethnographic documentary about the human rights abuse of people with a mental illness in Indonesia and the efforts of social activists to stop it. The film by Dr Erminia Colucci, in collaboration with Ass/Prof Harry Minas (Centre for International Mental Health, The University of Melbourne), Dr Hervita Diatri and other Indonesian partners, depicts the use of a widespread inhumane and universally ignored practice of using shackles and chains (known in Indonesia as pasung) to physically restrain persons with mental illness as a means of controlling their behaviour.

This groundbreaking documentary contributes to an understanding of pasung, the reasons behind its practice, the issues that must be overcome and the social and political activism needed to eradicate this form of human rights abuse in countries all over the world.

This special advanced screening follows two screenings of the fim being held at WHO headquarters  in Geneva on the 11th of October and at LSHTM  in London on the 15th October.

caged-3-signedFilmmaker Q & A

Please join filmmaker Dr. Erminia Colucci and a special panel of expert guests for a post screening Q and A discussion about how to take action on this important issue. Click here to meet the panel.

About the Film


The practice of physically restraining people with a mental illness by members of family or the community, almost invariably with no adequate treatment and always against their will, contravenes basic human rights principles. As result of this practice, thousands of people are estimated to live in isolation, chained, and/or inside “animal cages”, naked, undernourished and often living in their own excrement. The mental and physical consequences of these conditions (e.g. some people lose the ability to walk as result) are enormous.

The Government of Indonesia is the first government of any low or middle-income country that has established a national program to eradicate this practice. This program, which locates and releases victims of pasung and arranges treatment, represents a major mental health and human rights advance. Indonesia’s Ministry of Health has also committed to ending pasung throughout the country by 2015.

yaya2-redcropcolor-signedPasung has until now remained largely undocumented by the international media.

“Breaking the Chains” is a first of its kind documentary which situates pasung in the socio-cultural-political situation of Indonesia and gives voice to people with a mental illness in Indonesia and throughout the world who are living under similar restraints.

The documentary also tells an original story about the social and political activism being carried out at several levels (from consumer volunteer organizations, to the pasung survivors and their communities) in order to eradicate this form of human rights abuse and give freedom and dignity to people with a mental illness.

By showcasing the current social and political activism happening in Indonesia, “Breaking the Chains” aims to stimulate and encourage movement and reaction, not only in other countries around the world where similar practices that deny the basic human rights and promote abuses are presently occurring, but also intends to increase awareness and stimulate action and advocacy for human rights on a global level.

About the Filmmaker – Dr Erminia Colucci


Erminia Colucci’s interest in culture began during her undergraduate studies in Italy, continuing through her Postgraduate studies and fieldwork in Indonesia, Australia, Italy, U.K., India, Philippines and Japan. She uses photography and ethnographic film-documentary to research and visually (re)present issues that she also explores in her writing as a scholar in Cultural/Global mental health (Centre for International Mental Health, The University of Melbourne).

Her films and photos have been shown in Italy, Australia, Uruguay, Greece, Canada, U.K. and Switzerland. Erminia is also the founder and festival director of Aperture, the first Asia Pacific International Ethnographic Documentary Festival (21-23rd November 2013, Melbourne), and has recently co-curated the arts exhibition by suicide survivors “Inspired lives”.

Fundraiser Screening

Revenue from the screening of “Breaking the Chains”  will go towards funding the mastering and distribution of this important film globally and kickstart a new campaign on pozible aimed at raising funds to increase the global social impact of the film in countries where the issue is still largely prevalent. So come along and be part of the action!



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