A filmessay about power and powerlessness in psyciatric healthcare

Through five close and personal testimonies, the film highlights power structures in the health service told by both users, relatives and employees. What does the feeling of powerlessness do to your mental health and to your own feeling of self? How is it to live with the feeling of powerlessness over a longer period of time? How does it affect the people that exercise power? The film follows a mother and son and their struggle with a clogged bureaucracy combined with interviews and archivematerial.

Making Sense Together is a project that consist of three parts: A documentaryfilm, a short film and a web art project.




Director’s Note

The brutality of the Guards and the suffering of the Prisoners was so intense that the experiment was terminated after only six days. The study provided a graphic illus- tration of the power of situations to shape individuals’ behaviour.

Care is a complex term adjusted to the principles of organization, where one can wonder if the structure itself creates a climate for bureaucratic power to thrive. I am interested in the grey areas; can a collective care even exist under the terms of a bureaucracy? What roles are we given and what roles do we take on – regardless of being a patient, family member or an employee?

I have studied anthropology and I ́m inspired by this way of thinking and framing the world. In this film I isolate one area; power and powerlessness. The documentary-essay is also called a film that thinks and a film that reflects.

Ellen Ugelstad, 2019

Making Sense Together is a documentary film that investigates the relationship between power and powerlessness. I wanted to shed light on power structures in the health care system told through the perspective of both patients, their families and people working in the field. The initial idea comes from a chronic feeling of powerlessness regarding my brother ́s illness and dealing with the health care system in Scandinavia.

Closed psychiatric care is the most dictatorial part of society, through which a patient can have all their rights taken from them. There is too little openness when it comes to knowledge about closed environments with defined power hierarchies.

Pyschologist Zimbardos ”Stanford Prison Experiment” is one example. Ordinary students were divided into the roles of Prisoner and Guard and put in a prison-like environment.

Left: Hilde Olausson as Kjetils mother. Right: Edvin Anstedsrud as the “Kjetil”.

Left: Hilde Olausson as Kjetils mother. Right: Edvin Anstedsrud as the “Kjetil”.

The fight agains illness is an invisible and silent battle. People who suffer struggle in solitude, and rarely receive any applause.


My medical record will show that I have bipolar disorder. But that's not true. I'm just bipolar. I've even renamed the diagnosis "bipolar joy". Some say: "Well, it's not always a joy. "Yeah, I know, but neither is it always an illness.

Stig, “Bipolar Superstar”


But I have to cling onto the fact that I'm always trying to give him hope. No matter what he says, I reply: "Don't give up. Don't give up. You're a good person, and you have a mission in life."

Harriet, mor


But what I chose to do, and this stemmed from me, from my instinct as a fellow human being, was to go down on the ground with him. I looked at the stones, and participated. I could tell that he liked it. That it soothed him. I knew I did something I wasn't allowed to.

Christina, community worker


At least half the situations I've been in where we used restraints could have been handled differently to begin with. By being more humble, or by intervening in another manner.



As far as I'm aware, the intention of "new public management" is to increase profits and reduce expenses. Increased profits are ensured through the examination and diagnosing. As well as a constant flow of patients through the clinic. Hence the goal is to discharge the in-patients as fast as possible. So that you can bring in new patients for examination and diagnosing.

Leif, psychologist


Film info

Documentary/hybrid: 68 minutes.

CAST: Edvin Anstensrud, Hilde Olaussen, Trine Wiggen, Marianne Mørk Larsen, Stig Frode Henriksen, Christina Ørbekk Nikolaisen, Toni Usman

PARTICIPANTS: Stig Mass Andersen, Christina Ørbekk, Nikolaisen Harriet Lexow, Andreas Færø, Leif Jonny Mandelid

CREW: DIRECTOR Ellen Ugelstad SCRIPT Ellen Ugelstad, Einar Sverdrup CINEMATOGRAPHY Audun G. Magnæs FNF, Ellen Ugelstad

EDITOR Kirsti Marie Hougen N:F:K, Ellen Ugelstad CO-PRODUCER Kristian Mosvold COMPOSER Bergmund Waal Skaslien SOUND Håkon Lammetun, Lydhodene

Produced by TWENTYONE PICTURES © 2018


Oslo Pix, 6. June 2018
Oslo Pix politikk, 7. June 2018
Bergen Internasjonale FIlm Festival, October 2018
Humans International Film Festival, Valencia, Spain February 2019
DokFilm Volda, April 2019
Nordic Docs, Fredrikstad, May 2019



Special screenings

OSLO PIX POLITICS / OSLO PIX, RFPH / June 2018 / Presentation, screening, paneltalk

Special Screening Bergen International FIlmfest  BIFF / September 2018 / Norsk studentspykologisk forening

SEPREP (Education for healtworkers) / June 2018 / Presentation, screening and talk

AMALIE DAGENE (AMALIE DAYS) / WE SHALL OVERCOME / August 2018 / Presentation, lecture and screening


FREDRIKSTAD LITTERATURE HOUSE / 31st. of October 2018 / Screening with panel/debate + concert


Litteraturhuset, Oslo

Litteraturhuset, Oslo

LOVE AS MEDICIN / Oslo /KSM - MAJA THUNE / 1st of November 2018 / Presentation/lecture pluss clips

THE TOWNHOUSE IN TROMSØ / LPP- Lansforeningen for Pårørende / 5. desember 2018 / Presentation, screening and talk

VERDENSTEATERET / Tromsø / LPP- Lansforeningen for Pårørende / 5th of december 2018 / Presentation, screening and paneltalk

UNN (University Hospital of Northern Norway) / Tromsø / SEPREP / 6h of December 2018 / Presentation, screening and groupwork

CENTER FOR MEDICAL ETHICS / University of Oslo / 6th of Februrary 2019 / Presentation, screening and paneltalk

THE NORWEGIAN GOVERNMENT / Parliament of Norway / 19th of February 2019 / Presentation, screening, lecture

SPECIAL SCREENING; HUMAN - ER JEG EN PAKKE? / HUMAN INTL. FILMFEST / 1st. Of March 2019 / Presentation, screening, paneltalks


Interviews, articles, reviews

Press Room


Poster Art

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