An Angel At My Table

Frames of Mind: Madness of the Muses
Wednesday, November 15, 2006 – 7:30pm
USA/UK 1990. Director: Jane Campion
Colour, DVD, 158mins.

Jane Campion’s brilliant adaptation of Janet Frame’s Autobiography

“All poets are mad.” . – Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621)

Originally conceived of as a television miniseries, Jane Campion’s brilliant, heart-breaking three-part film adapts celebrated New Zealand author Janet Frame’s
three-volume autobiography. The first section, “To the Is-Land,” tells
of Frame’s poverty-stricken childhood on a New Zealand farm, where she
grows up chronically shy and awkward, acutely aware of being different,
and finds refuge in books and writing. In the second section, “An Angel
at My Table,” she dutifully enrols in teachers’ college, even though
she desperately wants to be a writer. A nervous collapse leads to a
wrongful diagnosis of schizophrenia and eight years in a mental
institution, enduring hundreds of electroshock treatments. Amazingly,
Frame continues to write throughout these terrible years; it is the
publication of her first book, and its winning of a prestigious
literary prize, that convinces doctors not to carry out a planned
lobotomy. The final section, “The Envoy from Mirror City,” charts
Frame’s blossoming as an artist, ­ her travels to Europe on a literary
fellowship, her stumbling onto the bohemian art world of the 1950s, and
her awkward first romantic relationship. Kerry Fox gives a mesmerizing breakout performance as the adult Janet. Colour, DVD. 158 mins.

Frames of Mind is a monthly film event utilizing film and video
to promote professional and community education on issues pertaining
to mental health and illness.

Post-screening discussion
with Ramon Kubicek. A writer, artist, and educator, Ramon currently
teaches film history as well as art and design history at Emily Carr
Institute and Langara College. He has published essays, short fiction,
poetry, criticism, and two books on art, including One Source: A
Celebration of Spirit and Art.

Moderated by Dr. Harry Karlinsky,
Director of Continuing Medical Education and Professional Development,
Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia.