Singing Was the Only Way Through


Photographs of asylum inmates dance with the ghosts of doctors and speak with the spirits of plants in this hybrid documentary that explores the mind’s ability to heal from pain. “Singing Was the Only Way Through” uses charcoal and collage animation, time-lapse photography, and a journey through the grounds of an abandoned psychiatric institution to reflect on a power shared by doctors and artists to mold the meaning of our collective realities. It wonders what we lose when we pathologize the full range of our emotions and yet still fail to alleviate the suffering of those of us in anguish. Are we crazy or do we live in a crazy world? Who has the power to decide?


Writer/Director: Kjerstin Rossi


Additional Camera:
Marcelitte Failla
Magnus Rosengarten
Noriko Sugiura
Uladzimir Taukachou
Niknaz Tavakolian


Kjerstin Rossi

Kjerstin Rossi is a filmmaker and editor. Her editing credits include “The Lazarus Effect”, an HBO production that examines the impact of free Antiretroviral medicines in Zambia, “Collaborators” about filmmaker Spike Jonze and his creative team, and the feature documentary “Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me” about the legendary Broadway actor. “Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me” premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2013 and was nationally released in 2014. Kjerstin has edited several experimental documentary works, including Wangechi Mutu’s “Mud Fountain” (Deutsch Guggenheim, 2010), Anna Gaskell’s “SOSW Ballet” (acquired by Whitney Museum, 2011), and Wangechi Mutu’s “Eat Cake” (Brooklyn Museum, 2013). Her experimental short “Super Queers” premiered at the Tate Modern and she is currently directing “Singing Was the Only Way Through”, a short hybrid documentary related to the psychiatric survivor movement.


Writing & Directing Documentary


“They called me mad, and I called them mad, and damn them, they outvoted me.”
― Nathaniel Lee, Playwright, 1684


La Palabra – Cinematographer
Boat Graveyard – Additional Camera
Toasted Marshmallows – Additional Camera