More than 1200 workers with developmental disabilities work at Lott Industries, a car manufacturing company in Toledo, Ohio. But, as the auto industry declines in neighboring Detroit, Lott has been threatened with closure – and has only twelve months to reinvent and, hopefully, save itself. A Whole Lott More tracks this critical year for Lott from the perspectives of three unique and unforgettable people - Wanda, TJ and Kevin. In its portrayal of Lott’s potential demise, the film explores the narrow range of employment available to people with developmental disabilities and details the incredible contribution they can make in the working world when provided with the right support.
Audience Award, HotDocs 2013
When Ross McKenzie was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, he was told he would have to take lithium for the rest of his life. To Ross, taking the drug daily felt like a chemical lobotomy, leaving him in a foggy, drug-induced haze, so he opted to resolve his symptoms outside of conventional medicine. Thus Ross began a fifteen year journey to treat his symptoms through alternative treatments and to discover the cause of his mental breakdown. Bipolarized uses Ross’ personal experiences as well as interviews with activists and psychiatrists to tell a larger, timely story about medication.
From the early days of silent films to today, the portrayal of disability on screen has been ever changing. Dynamic, star-studded documentary takes a detailed look at the effect TV and film has on the evolving conception of disability. Through exclusive interviews and archival clips from beloved films, Cinemability challenges both the portrayal and the lack of inclusion of people with disabilities in Hollywood. Does a filmmaker have a responsibility to use an actor with a disability to portray a character with a disability? Do disability portrayals in the media impact society or is the media simply a reflection of our ever-changing attitudes? And what is media’s role in transforming the society’s perception of disability and encouraging inclusion?
Even though Tova does not believe in love, she has had a remarkable success as a matchmaker. And so, people flock to her apartment where her husband, housekeeper, and daughter weigh in as she divines matches. Tova, who is paralyzed because of muscular dystrophy, specializes in finding matches for people with disabilities. Her tough-love approach leads to a unique matchmaking style but her passion for the work and for her clients is undeniable. Funny, heartwarming and endlessly entertaining, this documentary follows Tova over the course of a year and introduces the viewer to her family, inviting us to join in on her pain, humor, love and an enormous lust for life.
Official Selection, Doc Liepzig Film Festival
From bionic limbs and neural implants to prenatal screenings researchers around the world are developing technologies to “fix” or enhance the human body. These developments not only challenge the concept of disability, but of what it means to be fundamentally be a human in the 21st century. Does a man with no legs truly have a “disability” when he can run faster than most people in the world? What does it mean to be “normal” in a world where increasing numbers of people turn to “smart drugs” to get ahead each day? Fixed looks at the drive to be “better than human” and the radical technological innovations that may make it possible. With interviews with world-renowned experts and scholars and cameo performances by some of the world’s leading integrated dance companies, Fixed is a comprehensive look at the fascinating science of human enhancement—and its practical and philosophical implications.
Gabrielle, an exceptional singer and the star of the choir at her group home for developmentally disabled adults, is inseparable from her boyfriend, Martin. Although they want to be able to express their love physically, a physical relationship is forbidden by the group home. So, while her choir prepares for a performance at an important music festival, Gabrielle begins to work towards living independently. But despite her struggles to prove her readiness for independence, Gabrielle continues to face prejudices of people who believe that she and Martin should not be allowed to be intimate because of their disabilities. Produced by the team behind the Academy Award-nominated Incendies and Monsieur Lazhar, Gabrielle is a graceful and captivating tale of a young woman on a quest to make her own happiness.
Official Selection, Toronto International Film Festival
Audience Award, Locarno International Film Festival
After Kathy Leichter moved back to the NYC apartment in which she was raised, and where her mother committed suicide, she discovered a hidden box of audiotapes. It took sixteen years for Kathy to muster courage listen to the tapes but when she did she was suddenly granted new insights into her mother’s life and suicide. Her mother had recorded audio diaries about every aspect of her life - from the challenges of her marriage to Kathy’s dad, a NY State Senator, to her son’s estrangement, to her struggles with bipolar disorder. A visually arresting, emotionally candid film about a woman coping with mental illness, her relationships with her family, and the ripple effects of her suicide on those she loved.
Official Selection, IDFA
Official Selection, Hot Docs
In 1971, Simi Linton was injured while hitchhiking to Washington to protest the war in Vietnam. Still in college at the time, she suddenly confronted discrimination she couldn’t have imagined before she began using a wheelchair. Outspoken, thoughtful, and impassioned, Simi quickly became a resourceful activist. Invitation to Dance brings to light the efforts Simi has made to ensure rights for people with disabilities – from the time of her injury to her present day efforts to bring an end to discriminatory taxi service – and to maintain her capacity for love, sexuality, and dance.
The beloved characters from The Importance of Tying Your Own Shoes return! When the group decides to shoot a film about their lives, Peter calls his old friend Max, a successful, yet lonely and depressed, NYC-based cinematographer. When Max arrives he realizes that the documentary he has promised to shoot is about people with disabilities and he is forced to confront his own prejudices.
Albert’s exhilaration with life is contagious. At 20-years old he has already traveled much of the world with just 20 euros in his pocket, relying on his street smarts and the kindness of strangers to get around. Albert just won’t let anything get in his way, least of all his wheelchair. As he sets out on his biggest trip – from his home in Barcelona to a lighthouse in New Zealand – he bring along a video camera and his girlfriend, Anna. But Albert’s incredible dedication to his voyage and resourcefulness in the most foreign of places is unmatchable and Anna finds herself struggling to keep up. But while Albert himself is irrepressibly optimistic, speaking mostly of the present and his goals for the future, interviews with his grandmother, stepmother, and father, reveal the tough time he had as a kid. Also, through these interviews and delightful animation, Albert’s family explains why they have always let Albert go on these trying journeys.
IDFA - Doc U & 3r Audience Awards
Zagreb International Fest - Youth Award
Boulder International Film Festival - Best Documentary
One out of seven people will experience hearing loss in their lifetime. For music critic Nick Coleman, dancer Emily Thornton, and pianist Holly Loach, music and hearing were central to their lives and spirits pre-hearing loss. Lost and Sound follows these artist after they lost their hearing and as they journeyed deep into sound and silence to re-discover music. Made by a partially deaf filmmaker after the future of her own hearing was called into doubt, the film weaves its way through a startling world of altered sound. It combines intimate filming with original animation, a rich musical soundtrack (often manipulated to reveal what deafness actually sounds like), and new insights from the world’s top neuroscientists, to tell the story of the great human love affair with music. Featuring: New York Times bestseller Dr. David Eagleman, composer Professor Nigel Osborne, Dr. Katie Overy, Prof. David Huron, Dr. Robert Zatorre and science writer Philip Ball.
DORF Croatia 2013 – Best Film
46/47 / Nadine Heinze & Marc Dietschreit, 8 min, Germany
Daniel doesn’t feel different, so why does everyone treat him so?
A Life with Aspergers / Jaime Ekkens, 4 min, USA
A beautifully animated documentary that explores the challenges of growing up and living with Asperger’s Syndrome.
The Commute / Jake Alexander-McAfee, 4 min, USA
A wheelchair user tries to get home using public transportation – and finds himself on an arduous journey.
The Interviewer / Genevieve Clay-Smith & Robin Bryan, 13 min, Australia
When Thomas realizes his interviewer at a fancy
law firm would have Down Syndrome, he must disregard all preconceptions.
Just as I Remember / Andrew Moir, 17 min, USA
When Andrew Moir meets Brad, who has ALS, he is
reminded of his father who died from ALS the disease when Andrew was young.
Keep the Change / Rachel Israel, 16 min, USA
A coming-of-age love story about
a wealthy young man with social disorders who meets a woman at a group for
people with intellectual disabilities.
Motherly / Navid Nikkhah Azad, 13 min, Iran
Set out at a park in Tehran, a mother is anxious to reveal the identity of her soon to be
daughter in law.
Sounds for Mazin / Ingrid Kamerling, 19 min, Netherlands
12-year old Mazin looks forward to hearing with cochlear implants – but his friends
make him second guess the operation.
When Conor comes home after suffering a stroke, he is profoundly changed. Ted, an American doctor (Will Forte, of SNL and Nebraska, in his first dramatic role), moves in with Conor’s family so he can constantly observe Conor’s condition. Meanwhile, Conor’s two children and wife, Vanetia, grateful to have their father and husband home, struggle to adjust to living with a newly irritable and isolated man. While the family, including Conor himself, works to accept the profound change in their lives, Vanetia turns to Ted for guidance, forming a complicated friendship with him, making his place in their home increasingly complex.
Audience Award, Best Irish Feature, Galway Film Fleadh 2013
Official Selection, Tribeca Film Festival
13-year old Ricky, lives in Rockaway Beach with his sister and mother, Mariana, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. Ricky, who has autism, is deeply imaginative but painfully isolated and struggles to cope with the day to day. While his mother watches in helpless frustration, Ricky’s difficulties continue to separate him from the world around him. One day after Ricky’s sister leaves Ricky to get home from school alone, he escapes in a panic into the NYC subway system. Overwhelmed by his surroundings, he loses track of space and time in the massive, underground labyrinth, observing scenes of urban pathos and oddity while his body weakens from hunger. Meanwhile, his family struggles to find him, both coming together and falling apart, while desperately searching the city for Ricky. Fittingly shot in post-Hurricane Sandy, Stand Clear of the Closing Doors, beautifully illustrates Ricky’s solitude in the crowded sea of New York and his family’s daily struggles to create an accommodating world for Ricky and to survive as low-income immigrants to the US.
Special Jury Prize, Tribeca Film Festival
Official Selection, Karlovy Vary
Based on the true life story of Huang Yu-Siang, who stars as himself, Touch of the Light tells the story of a blind piano prodigy from rural Taiwan who moves to the big city to attend university. At university he finds himself competing on the same playing field as sighted students and struggling to find his own way. When Siang meets Jie, a beautiful beverage vendor who dreams of being a dancer, they form a quick friendship. Jie’s wretched home life stands in the way of her dreams but Siang’s determination becomes her own inspiration and drive.
Golden Horse Film Festival 2012 - FIPRESCI Prize, Best New Director, Best Actress
Busan International Film Festival 2012 - Audience Award