by Michael Sterling · 11/01/11
Each year, The Institute of Psychoanalysis in London hosts the European Psychoanalytic Film Festival. This year’s will be the Institute’s sixth run. Bernardo Bertolucci, the Academy Award winning Italian filmmaker who has been involved in projects such as Once Upon a Time in the West and The Last Emperor, is the festival’s Honorary President. This year’s festival will take place from November 3rd through the 6th.
Andrea Sabbadini, the Director of the festival, discussed this year’s theme of border crossing, migration and the immigrant’s experience. The immigrant, Sabbadini says, traverses mental borders as well as physical ones. The films this year will attend to this multi-faceted theme in various ways. In particular, they will demonstrate two kinds of spaces that immigrants occupy once they’ve been uprooted: the transitional space and the bridge space.
Sabbadini references the 20th century psychoanalyst Donald Woods Winnicott’s idea of the transitional space–otherwise known as a comfort object, like a child’s security blanket. This is a developmental phase between the psychic and external reality which facilitates the interaction of these two realities. In relation to an immigrant, for instance, a transitional space might be clutching to the memory of home in order to find comfort in a vastly different location and situation.
The bridge space, says Sabbadini, “is the passage going from one condition to another—whether a psychological condition, or moving physically. It is what happens to individuals when they do [migrate]. It seems to me one thing that always happens is that there is a loss. Sometimes a very major loss, sometimes a very traumatic loss. It could be a loss of language, a loss of identity, a loss of status, a loss of family, and a loss of one’s country of course.” Sabbadini elaborates on the immigrant’s experience of loss, in particular the transition from possession to dispossession. He claims that loss needs to be mourned. “If that mourning process is not possible,” says Sabbadini, “or interfered with or denied, then problems often ensue.”
Festival themes in the past have included children and Eastern European films. Hollywood films are excluded not because they are not worthy of the festival, but rather because they have far greater access to international distribution than do European films. Many European films do not find their way out of their countries of origin.
The Institute of Psychoanalysis, home of the British Psychoanalytic Society, is a center for training psychoanalysts, exploring psychoanalytic theory and treatment techniques. It is also the source for new publications in the field, further research, and the dissemination of psychoanalytic ideas through public lectures and events.
Click here for more details and as well a video of a press conference given by Director Andrea Sabbadini.