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SPK Complex

A film by Gerd Kroske

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In 1970, Dr. Wolfgang Huber and a group of patients founded the anti-psychiatric "Socialist Patients' Collective" or SPK in Heidelberg, Germany. Controversial therapy methods, political demands, and a massive interest in the movement from patients deeply distrustful of convention "custodial psychiatry," led to run-ins with the University of Heidelberg and local authorities.  The conflict quickly escalated and resulted in the radicalization of the SPK. Their experiment in group therapy ultimately ended in arrests, prison, and the revocation of Huber's license to practice medicine.

From a historical perspective, the SPK court cases seem to anticipate the Stammheim trials, with the exclusion of defense attorneys, the total non-compliance of the defendants, and harsh penalties for both Huber and his wife. The severity of the sentences handed down appears hardly proportional to the actual deeds of the accused. The allegation of having supported the RAF, and thus of being complicit in their terrorism, still clings to the SPK and overlies what the movement was originally about: the rights of psychiatric patients, resistance, and self-empowerment - issues that are still relevant today.

SPK COMPLEX focuses on the untold story of events before the "German Autumn" and their consequences up to the present day. A story of insanity, public perception, and (un)avoidable violence.

“As documentary SPK Complex [shows], the theories behind Germany’s Socialist Patients Collective (SPK) turned medical treatment on its head–but led some of them to the Red Army Faction.” —The Guardian

"An intriguing, enlightening documentary; SPK Complex provides an eye-opening revelation of a significant moment in political history." —The Upcoming

"An astute and calm work of art." —Der Tagesspiegel

"A precise picture of the social climate in Germany shortly before the German Autumn." —RBB Radio 1

"Rarely have we had such an up close and personal account of how Germany can make you go mad." —Spiegel Online

2018 Berlinale Forum
2018 Dokfilmwoche Hamburg
2018 DOK.fest Munich
2018 Neisse Film Festival
2018 Rendez-vous with Madness Film Festival

111 minutes / Color
German / English subtitles
Copyright: 2018

For colleges, universities, government agencies, hospitals and corporations

This DVD is sold with a license for institutional use and Public Performance rights.

Subject areas:
Medical Ethics, Mental Health, Psychiatry, Human Rights, Germany, History (World), Politics, Social Movements

Watch the trailer:

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