Close Up

26 January 2023: Treatment: The House Is Black + Face of our Fear


Treatment is a programme of films that make space for individual agency and subjecthood within institutional spaces of care and health. To a large extent, modern understandings of notions of health and care were formed around the cold rationality of the scientific method and the moral certitude of religious doctrine. This led to many institutions, dealing with health and care to be led by dogma, leaving no space for individuals within them to be acknowledged as anything other than predefined understandings of them. These films treat their subjects in a personal sense, having a specific attitude towards them, but they do not ‘treat’ their subjects in a clinical sense, trying to fix and homogenise divergence. 

The screening will be preceded by an introduction by Siavash Minoukadeh

The House is Black
Forough Farrokhzad, 1963, 22 min

The only film directed by trailblazing feminist Iranian poet Forough Farrokhzad finds unexpected grace where few would think to look: a leper colony whose inhabitants live, worship, learn, play, and celebrate in a self-contained community cut off from the rest of the world. Through ruminative voiceover narration drawn from the Old Testament, the Koran, and the filmmaker’s own poetry and unflinching images that refuse to look away from physical difference, Farrokhzad creates a profoundly empathetic portrait of those cast off by society – a face-to-face encounter with the humanity behind the disease. A key forerunner of the Iranian New Wave, The House Is Black is a triumph of transcendent lyricism from a visionary artist whose influence is only beginning to be fully appreciated.

Face of Our Fear
Stephen Dwoskin, 1991, 52 min

Initially screened as part of a Channel 4 season on disability, Face of our Fear is a video essay deconstructing stigmatised. representations of disability in Western culture alongside performed. Mixing footage from films and TV shows, with personal accounts and performances by disabled people, the film lays out the false conceptions of disability that had become embedded into culture over centuries. The dichotomy that presented disabled people as either powerless subjects to be pitied or deformed, dangerous actors is set out, and rejected, by Dwoskin with angry clarity.