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Next Masters Competition 2015
Dead When I Got Here Mark Aitken

An asylum for the mentally ill in Juárez, Mexico, where the ex-junkie Josué takes care of the castaways. An amazing ballad of difference and loss, violence and caring.

Dead When I Got Here

Documentary Film
72 minutes

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Mark Aitken
Mark Aitken
Mark Pilkington
Mark Aitken
Sibila Estruch
Alex Bryce, John Thorpe
At first sight Josué looks like an ageing heavyweight boxer who found his way back to life – and his vocation – after a knockout. We are at “Visión en Acción”, a home for the mentally disturbed on the outskirts of Juárez, Mexico. A violent city in which Josué wasted his life as a heroin junkie. Six years ago they dumped him here, half-dead. At “Visión en Acción” there are no doctors or nurses, there’s not enough money, only a kind of self-administration run by the inmates. They opened their arms to Josué and healed him. He has lived here ever since and managed the home with the dedication of a man who crossed a border and was brought back to serve his fellow humans in the spirit of charity. “Visión en Acción” is an amazing place, whose daily routines Mark Aitken shows us in very factual images. The situations need no spectacular highlights, they speak for themselves: of being mentally different, of loss, caring and the violence of the city. At the same time this point of view forces us again and again to recognise our own limits in the face of abnormalities. That’s one of the things Josué teaches us, who, in some shots, doesn’t look like a boxer at all but rather like a slumped, thoughtful Buddha.

Matthias Heeder