Docpoint – Helsinki Documentary Film Festival


Electric Malady

William places a sheer cloth around his head, followed by a foil-like cover, and so on. The head of the man living in a cabin in the forest is surrounded by so many layers of foil and a sheet-like fabric that he looks like a self-made ghost.

With its absurd images, the documentary isn’t trying to make the audience laugh. It depicts anguish, loneliness, and isolation. Swedish William, who used to play in bands and enjoyed the crowds, hasn’t stepped outside in ages. He suffers from sensitivity to electromagnetic radiation. And it is everywhere.

Medical science has differing views on whether the condition is real. Still, documentarist Marie Lidén doesn’t question William’s suffering. In interviews, the director has told that her mother has suffered from the same condition.

And neither does William’s family. His father and mother visit him a couple of times a week, arranging special feasts on holidays and seeking help. To counterweight the anguish, the film is filled with love.

Alongside stories of forced treatment and gloomy thoughts, old home video footage is shown of smiling William. He lives in the forest, is proud of the simplistic toilet he has built, and lets his girlfriend cut his hair. 

The joy of the years past is a reminder of what William is now missing. 

Kaisu Tervonen (translated by Jenni Kaunisto)

Language: Swedish
Subtitles: English
Length: 84 min
Age Limit: K12
Year: 2022
Production Country: United Kingdom

Director: Marie Lidén
Producer: Aimara Reques
Production Company: Aconite Productions
Distribution Company: Conic
Editing: David Arthur
Cinematographer: Michael Sherrington
Music: John Lemke
Sound Design: William Aikman