Banner collage featuring pictures from several of the films and books mentioned in the article

WHAT TO WATCH

Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution (2020)

Co-directed by Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht

From the website

“In the early 1970s, teenagers with disabilities faced a future shaped by isolation, discrimination and institutionalization. Camp Jened, a ramshackle camp “for the handicapped” (a term no longer used) in the Catskills, exploded those confines. Jened was their freewheeling Utopia, a place with summertime sports, smoking and make-out sessions awaiting everyone, and campers experienced liberation and full inclusion as  human beings. Their bonds endured as many migrated West to Berkeley, California — a hotbed of activism where friends from Camp Jened realized that disruption, civil disobedience, and political participation could change the future for millions.”

DOUGLAS

Directed BY Madeleine Parry

Hannah Gadsby returns for her second special and digs deep into the complexities of popularity, identity and her most unusual dog park encounter.

Vision Portraits (2019)

Directed, produced, and edited by Rodney Evans
From the filmmaker’s website:

“Director, producer and editor of a documentary feature that chronicles the experiences of several blind artists including John Dugdale (photographer) and Ryan Knighton (writer). It specifically focuses on the ways each artist was impacted by the loss of their vision and how their creative process thrives in spite of their blindness.”

Interview with Rodney Evans by Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air (August 5, 2019)

Unrest (2017)

Directed and produced by Jen Brea

Synopsis from the film’s website:

“Jennifer Brea’s Sundance award-winning documentary, Unrest, is a personal journey from patient to advocate to storyteller. Jennifer is twenty-eight years-old, working on her PhD at Harvard, and months away from marrying the love of her life when a mysterious fever leaves her bedridden. When doctors tell her it’s “all in her head,” she picks up her camera as an act of defiance and brings us into a hidden world of millions that medicine abandoned.

In this story of love and loss, newlyweds Jennifer and Omar search for answers as they face unexpected obstacles with great heart. Often confined by her illness to the private space of her bed, Jennifer connects with others around the globe. Like a modern-day Odysseus, she travels by Skype into a forgotten community, crafting intimate portraits of four other families suffering similarly. Jennifer Brea’s wonderfully honest and humane portrayal asks us to rethink the stigma around an illness that affects millions. Unrest is a vulnerable and eloquent personal documentary that is sure to hit closer to home than many could imagine.”

When I Walk (2013)

Directed by Jason DaSilva

Director’s statement by Jason DaSilva:

“I wanted to capture this transformative experience—becoming disabled—in WHEN I WALK because I hadn’t seen it done before, and people need to see how a degenerative disease impacts the lives of those living with it. The first scene in the film is of me on the beach with my family. I brought my camera along to film the get-together, but the footage we captured meant more than I could have imagined: I fell down, and couldn’t get back up. It was the very first time my MS made something in my life go completely awry, made itself visible and impossible to ignore. What was supposed to be a nice family vacation turned into the inciting incident. Soon after, and encouraged by my family, I chose to not ignore my MS but to turn my camera on it instead. I had made films all my life, so making a film about the progression of the disease seemed a natural way for me to process the journey.

Sins Invalid: An Unshamed Claim to Beauty (2013)

Directed by Patty Berne

From Sins Invalid’s website:

“Sins Invalid witnesses a performance project that incubates and celebrates artists with disabilities, centralizing artists of color and queer and gender-variant artists. Since 2006, its performances have explored themes of sexuality, beauty, and the disabled body, impacting thousands through live performance. Sins Invalid is an entryway into the absurdly taboo topic of sexuality and disability, manifesting a new paradigm of disability justice.”

WHAT TO READ

Autistic Women and Nonbinary Network, 2017, Lydia X.Z. Brown, E. Ashkenazy, Morénike Giwa Onaiwu.

Arsenal Pulp Press, 2018, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha. 

Penguin Random House, 2016, Sara Nović.

Disability Visibility Project, 2018, Alice Wong.

Ford Foundation, 2019, Judy Heumann, Katherine Salinas, Michelle Hess.

DC Comics, 2020, Marieke Nijkamp.

University of Georgia Press, 2020, Sejal Shah.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018, Marieke Nijkamp.

Alice Wong

Alice Wong is the Guest Editor of Break The Story: Disability Visibility and Founder of the Disability Visibility Project. She is also the editor of a new anthology available now, Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century. (@SFdirewolf) 



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