Cucic & Skoric: Mitch – Diary of a Schizophrenic

It is rough. It is provoking. It is touching, poetic and shocking because you experience the difficulties of a man’s aim to come to terms with himself and life as it goes on in his head and around him in the psychiatric hospital, where he is, has been for 12 years and where he in a film, he is making himself, expresses his despair. Outstanding it is, nothing less!

He does not understand, why he is put up here, ”I am a bohemian, I write poems and songs, I take photographs, why am I here with retarded people”. And Mitch makes this film, together with Damir Cucic, filming himself and patients behind the bars, he is an intelligent well-formulated man, who talks about himself and asks questions in different languages to other patients. They sing songs, they rap and perform. Or sit on a bench, have given up, have been here for 22 years. These patients are not visually recognisable, they have been given silhouettes to cover their identity.

Mitch is a man who has been using many drugs, and you understand quickly that he is locked in because he has committed crimes. He turns the camera (a cellphone?) towards himself, he is filming himself at night time as well, and the director of the film, Damir Cucic, interprets his situation in these and many other

sequences, where the excellent sound score comes in. There is from Cucic established a rythm in the film from Mitch talking all the time to silent sequences, where he observes leaves on a tree, something beautiful, or the camera goes down the corridor ending on closed doors and bars. A place where claustrophobia has an easy take.

He is for some time out of the institution, he travels with his mother, sweet scenes, but back to darkness, tha bars and the metallic sounds that surround the images. The shaky camera movements create a constant atmosphere of nervousness, Mitch talks a lot and quite openly about sex, he sings/raps with other patients, he gets out at some point, meets some girls, says that he is ”making a film about myself and stuff”, wants to look for some cocaine, he is in a workshop, he is out fishing, he is talking drugs… He reflects on his wish to have all his thoughts flow together, be under control. You have total empathy for him from the beginning of a film that never becomes sentimental, thank you for that!

The film ends with a text about Mitch brought in again for some crimes. Back in the shit.

Croatia, 2014, 73 mins.

Epilogue: I should have watched the film at ZagrebDox but that did not happen. The text from the website of the festival:

The documentary film Mitch – Diary of a Schizophrenic directed by Damir Čučić was withdrawn from the programme of the 10th Zagrebdox due to the threat of court proceedings in the event that the film was screened publicly. The film′s producer Sinisa Juricic decided to withdraw the film after the psychiatric hospital where the movie was filmed threatened legal action for unauthorized recording and eavesdropping

I have asked the producer Sinisha Juricic, who was so kind to give me a link for watching the film, about what has happened since the withdrawal that deserves to travel all over. No answer yet.

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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