Let him free

At the hundredth anniversary of his birth, the relevance of the idea of Franco Basaglia, Psychiatrist Director of the Psychiatric Hospital of Gorizia and later Trieste, is remarkable. He abolished physical restraint and electroshock therapy; he is credited with the closure of asylums and the enactment of Law 180/1978, known as the ‘Basaglia Law.’ Since then, the focus of mental health care has been on the person and their dignity: “freedom is therapeutic”.

Director’s Notes

The hundredth anniversary of Franco Basaglia‘s birth must serve as an opportunity to bring his thinking back to the forefront of the debate on mental health, as the one who first decided that the closure of asylums was “simply obvious”.
The choice has been to meet with those who worked alongside him. A group of young psychiatrists, then attracted by the charismatic figure of a psychiatrist who stood against the establishment and placed the free and no longer segregated person at the center of mental illness: the group that experimented with him a new way of approaching mental illness.
Thus, the narrative of those who have picked up Basaglia’s baton and innovated his theory and application, almost taking stock of what the great psychiatrist left as a legacy. Doctors Peppe Dell’Acqua and Roberto Mezzina, former directors of the Department of Mental Health in Trieste, take us into the facilities for the treatment of mental illnesses, to verify whether the implementation of the Basaglia Law has been fully applied or only partially. Precious archives and present-day images show us the people, the genesis, and the relevance of the Trieste Model.
The meeting with Dévora Kestel, Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Use at WHO, herself a “student” of Basaglia in Trieste, shifts us from the Italian condition to the global one, where attention and care are focused on individuals rather than on illness.
Even if a citizen is experiencing mental distress, they remain such, with the same civil rights.

Maurizio Sciarra


Year: 2024
Production: Le TALEE and Agherose
Director: Maurizio Sciarra
Director of Photography: Guglielmo Bianchi
Music: Emanuele Frusi and Paolo Forte 

Produced by Le TALEE and Agherose, in collaboration with Rai Documentari, with the support of Audiovisual Fund of Friuli Venezia Giulia and FVG Film Commission/PromoTurismoFVG, with the contribution of AAMOD – Archivio Audiovisivo del Movimento Operaio e Democratico and the patronage of Fondazione Franco e Franca Basaglia.


  • “Lo Spiraglio” Filmfestival della salute mentale 2024 – Special Screening at MAXXI in Rome
  • Bif&st Bari International Film&TV Festival 2024 – Official Selection Italia Film Fest 2024

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