The Fergus Falls State Hospital, also known as the Third Minnesota State Hospital for the Insane or, simply, the Kirkbride building, was constructed in 1890 following the design plan of Thomas Kirkbride, who emphasized the 'moral treatment' of the mentally ill. The hospital employed hundreds of workers and held 2,000 patients at its peak. The Kirkbride was entirely self-sufficient, with its own farm, dairy, wood shop and orchestra. It served Fergus Falls for 117 years before finally closing in 2007, long after the other large state hospitals underwent de-institutionalization. The building now sits empty on the edge of town and the Fergus Falls community is in the process of advancing plans for its redevelopment.
The title of Nerburn’s film comes from a former patient at the facility who had a regular saying; "I'm going to kill myself...but first I'm going to dance!" According to a former nurse who took care of him, this patient would dance his heart out and drench his shirts in sweat - possibly the most important therapy he needed to get through each week.
The film uses experimental techniques and archival images to construct the documentary narrative. Nerburn says he is interested in exploring the intersections of power and memory to explore forgotten regional histories and legends.
“Nerburn’s documentary style is incredibly unique and handles the complex story of the Kirkbride so gracefully,” said Michele Anderson, Fergus Falls Director of Springboard for the Arts. For more information on efforts to save and repurpose the Kirkbride, visit: www.friendsofthekirkbride.com
About Pioneer Public Television
Established in 1966, Pioneer Public TV is an award-winning, viewer-supported television station dedicated to sharing local stories of the region with the world. For more information visit: www.pioneer.org