festivals & awards:
Asylum of S. Thérèse of Lisieux. 1963.
Once upon a time, there were places where people were locked up to be forgotten. Bars on windows, secure locks, closed doors, strict internal rules punctuated everyday life. Eating, sleeping and taking sedatives dictated the days of the penance of the internees in the psychiatric institution in which it is impossible to grow, just as it is impossible to be cured.
In the asylum population of Sainte-Thérèse, that of pavilion 90 includes children. In repetitive rituals, sometimes provocative, sometimes touching, they sit in a circle in the courtyard, linger on sounds and colors, whisper. In the refectory, they mechanically tap their food. In their rooms, they cling to the bars of the windows and hide... They take care of and do nothing at all with their long days...
Some of them are called lost children. They are frenasthenic, insane, oligophrenic or epileptic. Lost, because their families have forgotten them. Retrievable, because one day they may be able to integrate back into society. For now, they are kept in cages, serving their sentences while waiting to be regurgitated. Their leader is Lucia (15 years old). Her blue eyes fixed on the sky, often remembering the morning when she decided to kill herself... She had been told she was crazy. She has never seen such beautiful skies at the asylum... until Anna arrives. Anna is 18 years old. She is an orphan who grew up in a convent and knows nothing about life. The sisters sent her there to learn a trade, find her place in the world and become a nurse. The horrors and contradictions of the asylum unfold before her: a cruel, living and multifaceted creature in which Anna learns to administer therapies, to impose meals, showers and also to inflict punishment. But, immersed in these long, sanitized corridors, Anna feels more and more lost and trapped almost like the patients themselves. And Lucia, who has just started a new therapy, is the only one who seems to see her, the only one who seems to understand her. In helping Lucia we find Dr. Marie D'Amico.
The therapeutic relationship with Marie is for Lucia a chance that could change her life, giving her the opportunity to escape both confinement and illness. Lucia could become a Girasole (sunflower), a patient allowed to walk around on her own. The only alternative to the life imprisonment that the institution would impose on her as soon as she turns 16.
To escape, however, there are easier and more powerful ways, and Lucia finds hers: love. An unlimited and uncontrollable love that could both enhance the therapy and annihilate it. As a nurse, Anna is forced to decide which side to take on: on Lucia and Mary's side, with love and sacrifice, or on the side of the asylum staff, as cynical and cruel as she they are.And her choice will determine Lucia's fate.