Today I Am Going to Kill Myself But First I Am Going to Dance
A documentary film about the legacy of the Fergus Falls State Hospital in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. The project incorporated a public screening on the grounds of the state hospital, along with a live-narrated home movie screening organized with collaborator Andy Morical. I continue to go back to Fergus Falls yearly, often in collaboration with Springboard for the Arts.
The title of the 25 minute long film comes from a patient, who is quoted by my friend Michele Anderson in her thesis, Imaginative Fields.
"When the building was tucked away and easy to miss if you weren't looking for it, the impact on everyday life in the community, even today as it sits empty, cannot be ignored. Former hospital workers still gather annually to remember their lives in this self-sustaining community, which had its own auto shop, beauty salon, underground tunnels, and parades. A patient-staff orchestra named the Happy Ramblers led weekly outdoor dances on the tennis court, performing on instruments donated by people in the community. Many former nurses have expressed to me how important the arts were to the patients. One remembers a regular saying of one of her patients: "I'm going to kill myself...but first I'm going to dance!" This patient would dance his heart out and drench his shirts in sweat - possibly the most important therapy he needed to get through each week."