Wolf, a Native American man, still trying to understand his childhood trauma of being placed in a mental asylum, works to tell the history of mental health in America through his art and stories. Wolf completes this history while struggling with homelessness, police abuse, jail, and being forced to take psychotropic drugs. During the 17 years covered by this documentary, Wolf's life is transformed and the impact of the modern world takes a physical and mental toll.
“A Wolf in the Asylum” began as a collaboration between director James Lilly and Wolf Cummings to produce the book “Asylum Arcanum” about Kirkbride Mental Asylums. This evolved into a “cinéma vérité” film of Wolf's life as a Native American and society outsider confronting mental health, the legal system, and violence on the streets of America over the course of almost two decades.
Shot on location in Santa Fe, New Mexico; Detroit, Michigan; New York, New York, and a dozen abandoned Kirkbride Mental Asylums throughout the United States.