$12 General Admission
“Since the law of September 27, 2013, patients involuntarily hospitalized in psychological hospitals must be presented to a freedom and detention judge within 12 days, then every six months, if necessary.”
So begins the documentary 12 Days, a deep examination of the psychiatric care system in France. It is formed from numerous evaluations as described in the opening intertitles, focusing on involuntarily-committed patients as they try to leave the system that has ensnared them with the best of intentions. Through these moments, the tenuous, procedural nature of the system is revealed with an unvarnished minimalism.
Much of what is most revealing in 12 Days comes in its directness within a general lack of background. As much as for impact as for privacy reasons, the backgrounds (and real names) of the patients are not revealed, and the viewer is forced to make certain judgments about the faces in front of them, which are slowly proven or disproven over the course of the extended discussions. What emerges as paramount in the documentary is the nature of these moment-to-moment interactions between the powerless and the powerful, and how even the best intentions can lead to entrapment and indirect harm.
“Veteran docu-maker Raymond Depardon pulls off the neat trick of being both impartial and compassionate in 12 Days (12 Jours), a soberly filmed but emotionally gratifying introduction to an array of involuntary patients in a French psychiatric hospital.” – Lisa Nesselson, Screen Daily