On the Adamant review – Berlin winner offers art and soul aboard a floating Parisian day-care centre

Nicolas Philibert’s warm and sympathetic documentary about a boat for mental-health patients on the Seine is a worthy winner of the Berlin film festival’s Golden Bear

There was real justice in Kristen Stewart’s Berlin jury awarding their top prize, the Golden Bear, to this excellent movie from the 72-year-old French director and lion of documentary film-making, Nicolas Philibert. His film is compassionate, intelligent and shrewdly observed; it is about a Paris landmark which has only been in existence for 13 years but which tourists and anyone with an interest in mental health should really come and marvel at. The Adamant is a floating day-care centre for people with mental disorders, permanently moored on the Seine just by the Charles de Gaulle bridge. The design is half Mississippi gamblers’ riverboat, half art studio, with an elegant system of automatically opening louvred windows which make the most of daylight. The staff offer counselling and art therapy through music, painting, craft, literature and cinema. The Adamant hosts its own annual film festival for which the patients choose the films. There is also a cafe and bar.

The vessel’s name, the Adamant, is interestingly old-fashioned, like calling it the Fighting Temeraire. But it’s appropriate. Everyone involved is determined that the French state should protect this kind of respectful, collegiate approach which treats patients as human beings.

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Category: Mental Health