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The Seventh biannual European Psychoanalytic Film Festival took place in London from 31 October to 3 November 2013, with a programme dedicated to the theme of Secrets. The organisers’ careful selection of films and accompanying discussions brought together filmmakers, psychoanalysts and scholars from several European countries.
The first day saw the presentation of the Austrian film Atmen [Breathing] (2011), directed by the acclaimed actor Karl Markovics. The film depicts in the bleakest of ways the fate of a young convict trying to find his way back into society. His path leads him and the audience to an agonising encounter with the banality of death, its repression and surrounding taboos. Mainly set in Vienna, the world depicted by Markovics seems to have very little in common with the salons of fin-de-siècle Vienna and their attendant maladies; and one cannot help asking oneself how Freud and his bourgeois clientele of neurotic patients have any relevance to the hopeless people at the lower end of today's society.
In contrast to Freud, …
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