The French film 12 Days – a big screen documentary – tells the story about the French law, where anyone admitted into the hospital without their consent must be seen by a judge within 12 days. That judge must decide whether these psychiatric hospital patients can be allowed back into society.
Every year in France, 92,000 people are placed under psychiatric care without their consent. The movie 12 Days focuses on those who have been involuntarily remanded to a mental hospital, and more specifically documents the hearings that, according to a 2013 law, are required to take place 12 days after each patient has been committed.
At these hearings, the patients are given an opportunity to argue for their freedom before a judge who ultimately decides whether they will go free or return for further treatment. Granted access to these hearings for the first time, celebrated filmmaker and photographer, Raymond Depardon, captures these extraordinary encounters between justice and psychiatry, giving a voice to those who have previously been voiceless.
Encompassing questions of mental health, power, class, agency, and the dynamics of societal institutions, 12 Days is consummately controlled yet suffused with empathy and compassion.
Check out photos from 12 Days: