Director Mark Aitken explains how the film came to be...


I’d been reliably informed that filming in Mexico was dangerous but I figured that a mental asylum run by its own patients might be relatively safe. After a little research and a few emails I tracked down ‘El’ Pastor, founder of the asylum. I spent two weeks on my own filming from dawn to dusk. It was the most moving and exhilarating experience of my life. And that was just the beginning of three years of hard work that produced a film and a book about these amazing people.


Nearby in Juárez, over 3000 people are murdered each year with impunity. Some say drug cartels, poverty, global trade, corruption. Those with money have fled. Most remain trapped. 


There is love in the harsh world of the asylum and the fact that the patients are still alive is testament to this. Josué’s past, his transformation and reuniting with his family offers rare hope in a brutal world. Something far away from the pornographic sensationalism of most reporting from Juárez and similar official or unofficial warzones. 


Tacit Films Ltd in co-production with IKON & YLE


Production Details

  • 4 x 14 day shoots between August 2011 – January 2013 in Juárez, LA and Tijuana
  • 73 Hours of footage
  • Representation at MeetMarket, Sheffield Docfest 2012 (UK), Verzio Doclab 2012 (Hungary), Docs Barcelona 2013 (Spain)
  • Successful crowd funding campaign implemented June 2013
  • Picture edit: Jan - May 2014
  • Sound edit & mix - Sept 2014

This website serves as an extension to the feature documentary DEAD WHEN I GOT HERE. News; direct sales of the film and book; exclusive scenes that didn't make the final cut; photo essays and interviews all go towards a more involved experience. There are many contributors. If you wish to add anything then please get in touch.