Richard Ware Adams


Encounters Through Film

ASYLUM Turns 40 with Gala at New School

On Friday, March 16, the National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis, with Cabinet Magazine, presents a discussion/screening of ASYLUM, with reflections on the legacy of R.D.Laing in an era of wonder-drugs by biographer Daniel Burston (The Wing of Madness and The Crucible of Experience) and Roberta Russell, author with Laing of R.D.Laing and Me: Lessons in Love. There will be glimpses of Laing’s 1972 U.S. tour, and I’ll be there to answer questions about living and filming in the Archway community. A nice chance to catch ASYLUM if you’ve never seen it.  6 – 10 PM, admission free, Arnhold Hall, 2nd floor, Theresa Lang Community and Student Center, The New School, 55 West 13th Street, New York City.                                                                                                                                      More info:

A South African Gem of a Doc

An unusual, poetic and much-honored documentary on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings by South African filmmaker Liza Key will have its American premiere at the New School on Thursday, November 3 at 6 PM, Tishman Auditorium, 66 West 12th Street.  Rewind evokes the moral and emotional impact of the hearings through the prism of composer Philip Miller’s creation of a cantata and its performance that marked the 10th anniversary of the TRC, interwoven with interviews and archival imagery. Thursday’s screening anticipates the upcoming centennial of the founding of the African National Congress. Admission Free, but first come first served.

Asylum’s Further Travels

Thanks to Pat Montgomery of Archive Films, the late Don Krim of KINO International, Peter Robinson’s son Kenneth, and the folks at Anthology Film Archives, Asylum was dusted off in 1993 and has enjoyed a whole new life.  My “Laingian” and Polish paths crossed when I discovered that in the 1970s Poland had had its own parallel movements in psychiatry and psychotherapy. For Asylum this led to two major discussion/screenings in Warsaw, and a request for a description of life in Laing’s therapeutic commune as experienced by a mere cameraman, which has now appeared in Polish translation in a still-emerging seven-volume anthology on psychotherapy compiled by Warsaw University’s Department of Psychology.  My Polish friends may be interested to know – and some may be amused — that with the kind permission of the editors my article has also just come out somewhat more accessibly in the current issue Number 27/28 of the prominent left-wing quarterly Krytyka Polityczna, under the title “Six Weeks in a Madhouse”.


More on the South African hunch in due course.

Six Months in Joburg

This news is pre-earthquake and pre-hurricane Irene, and hence old, but I have to start somewhere.  (I felt a bit cheated because I didn’t notice the earthquake and as a Manhattanite I didn’t get to experience the eye of the hurricane.  As a kid I had loved earthquake movies – San Francisco, The Last Days of Pompeii, Green Dolphin Street……)


I spent six of the past twelve months in Johannesburg, South Africa, while my wife, Elzbieta Matynia, did research for a new book.  I owe her a lot because on about day two we were e-mailed the text of a talk we were going to hear the next day, and on about page two I found the inspiration for a film, and my original hunch has enjoyed remarkable karma so far, and will be keeping me busy for several months to come.


In Joburg meanwhile there were several screenings of oldies I had made or worked on: a campus discussion/screening of Citizens organized by a recently evolving off-shoot of the South African Communist Party; a screening of Men of Bronze for an interestingly mixed full house at the Alliance Francaise; and a South African “premiere” of Asylum, with a very well-attended repeat showing later, at Joburg’s recently launched Bioscope, whose founders, film buffs Darryl Els and Russell Grant, bring to it the same energy and flair and promise that launched New York’s Film Forum.

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