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Shock Head Soul
dir. Simon Pummell / Netherlands, UK 2011 / 86’
subtitles: Polish only


Hugo Koolschijn, Anniek Pheifer, Thom Hoffman, Jochum ten Haaf

Film description

Daniel Paul Schreber was a successful lawyer who suddenly began to receive messages from God via a ‘Writing Down Machine’. He spent the next 9 years confined to an asylum tortured by delusions of cosmic control, suffering the belief that the only way to save the world is to subject himself to God’s will and change his gender. During his hospitalization in 1903, he wrote and published Memoirs of My Nervous Illness, one of the few treatments of mental illness ‘from the inside’. In the 1940s and 50s, Schreber’s book, an authentic voice from the abyss of madness, became the art-brut movement’s bible. In a cinematic study of psychosis, Shock Head Soul interleaves the story of Schreber’s mental illness, fragments of his book with CGI animation and documentary interviews with contemporary psychiatrists. Brit experimental director Simon Pummell's study of mental illness and its treatment at the turn of the 20th century, has all the weirdness, cerebral depth and envelope-pushing style that David Cronenberg's otherwise estimable Jung-Freud faceoff, ‘A Dangerous Method’, lacks, wrote ‘Variety’s critic, Leslie Felperin. 

Prepared by: Ewa Szabłowska

Information about director

Simon Pummell

Simon Pummell is a director and new media visual artist whose films and animations have screened at festivals in Venice, Rotterdam, Berlin and Oberhausen. He also builds installations that use projection. Pummel has lectured at the Piet Zwart Institute of Post-Graduate Studies and Research, Willem de Kooning Academy, and Rotterdam University.

Selected filmography

1991 Secret Joy of Falling Angels (short)

1995 Evolution (short)

1998 Ray Gun Fun (short)

2003 Bodysong (doc.)

2011 Shock Head Soul

Prepared by: Ewa Szabłowska


director: Simon Pummell
screenplay: Simon Pummell
cinematography: Reinier van Brummelen
editing: Tim Roza
music: Roger Goula Sarda
cast: Hugo Koolschijn, Anniek Pheifer, Thom Hoffman, Jochum ten Haaf
producer: Bruno Felix, Janine Marmot, Femke Wolting, Koert Davidse, Marc Thelosen, Yan Ting Yuen
production: Hot Property Films, Illuminations Films, Submarine, seriousFilm
sales: Autlook Films
language: English
colouration: colour
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