Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Why not a Disability Film Festival?

This week-end I was lucky enough to see some films at the Portland International Film Festival, sponsored by the Northwest Film Center. Audience members were asked to fill out a form with programming suggestions, and I suggested that they sponsor a “Disability Film Festival.” I would love to go to a film festival that had films that were about or by persons with disabilities, a festival with a tone that is more “empower and inform” than “let’s put on a pity party.”

Here are just a few documentary films I think would be a good fit for such a festival. Full disclosure: I haven’t seen any of the documentaries but have put those that are available on my Nexflix cue:

Hear and Now, a film by a Portland filmmaker, Irene Taylor Brodsky, about her deaf parents and their decision, after not hearing for 65 years to undergo cochlear implant surgery. You can hear an interview with Irene to learn more.

Praying With Lior, adocumentary about Lior, a boy with Down Syndrome, who prepares for his bar mitzvah in Philadelphia.

Murderball, a documentary about the competitive, rough and tumble world of quadriplegic rugby teams.

39 Pounds of Love: From this film’s web site - “39 Pounds of Love is the inspirational and humorous non-fiction account of a remarkable man and a remarkable journey. Ami Ankilewitz was diagnosed with an extremely rare and often fatal form of SMA/2 that severely limits his physical growth and movement, yet at 34 years of age, he continues to outlive a doctor's prediction of life expectancy by 28 years. And counting.” Ami works in Israel as a 3D animator.

These are just a few of the possible entries for my dream Disability Festival. I think such a festival should also include some comedies and dramas, such as Benny and Joon, Mozart and the Whale, Coming Home, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape – there are hundreds, maybe thousands to choose from. Disability Films is a British web site lists over 2,500 films that involve persons with disabilities. The site is organized by type of disability and has not only lists of major and minor films for each category, but additional links. The site also features a great list of books and articles on disability and film.

Are there any films that you think would be a good fit for a Disability Film festival? Comments and suggestions welcome!


Brian said...


Just like yourself, the films at PIFF that have moved me to tears are the disability films. "Hear and Now" is one of my favorites. I am currently a physical therapy student with the idea of creating a disability film festival for fund raising. I will let you know if anything pans out. Also, I highly, highly, highly recommend the film, Darius Goes West ... talk about empowering and informing, this is it!

Carol said...

Brian - do let me know if you get something going. I am well connected to mailing lists in Clark County and can help spread the word.

I have Darious Goes West saved on my Netflix list.

Thanks for visiting my blog!!