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Ability beyond disability

Published time: November 26, 2010 11:27
Edited time: November 26, 2010 18:55

Up to 90 films focusing on people with disabilities will be screened in the Russian capital during the “Breaking Down Barriers” International Festival highlighting productions from 19 countries.

The far-reaching four-day event brings together filmmakers from Iran, Israel, America and Russia, just to name a few.

“The aim of the program is to draw attention to some of the problems that people with disabilities come to grips with in their daily routine,” organizers of the festival explain.

The event kicked off on Friday, with short and long features, documentaries, animation and films for children playing in two cinemas.

“The challenge is to put the spotlight on the potential of people with disabilities, but also to diversify their interests by showing visual examples of their counterparts living an active life.”

Manu, High on Wheels could serve as a good role model. The Belgian film features a young man dreaming of winning a match of wheelchair football.

A young and brave Israeli director, Rona Soffer, will share her moving story with Russian audiences. At the age of 15, she was involved in a severe car accident, leaving her with a slim chance of survival.

Rona pulled through and made a film entitled Not Necessarily (“Love Davka”) in which, as she explains, she faces the challenge of finding love. “I met disabled and non-disabled men and searched for my place in the love equation. I was in for a surprise.”

Another drama about love is from German director Martin Jabs who will discuss his documentary with the audiences in Moscow, on November 27

See What I`m Saying: The Deaf

Nora is Still Alive speaks for itself. It is a film about parents’ love for their daughter. Nora is going to die soon, doctors say, however, she is still alive. Despite her physical and mental disabilities, she outlives her beloved mother and grandmother whose deaths she hardly ever grasps. When her brother decides to make a film about the tragedy, he turns out to be closer to his sister than he himself thought.

The "R" Word from the award-winning Canadian theater and film director, Pierre Tetrault, is also among the highlights of the festival. His film which tells the stories of three generations of families and individuals, often labeled by society as “village idiots”, “fools” and “sub-human”.

The 'R' Word unveils the daily struggles of people with intellectual disabilities, explaining how the fears and superstitions of the Middle Ages eventually gave rise to the notorious policies of Hitler.

No Pity is worth a thousand words, focusing on some of the most inscrutable neurological disorders, such as autism. Teenage American director, Drew Morton Goldsmith, has experienced it firsthand and made the 19-minute film about this insufficiently explored phenomenon.

“Throughout their lives, some people try to be special. But we are all born special," that’s what people with autism say about themselves. As the film’s title suggests, people with autism do not need pity as much as recognition of their ‘otherness’ and an opportunity to live with dignity.” Goldsmith said.

Anita by Marcos Carnevale

The award-winning, promising filmmaker is set to introduce his one-off film at the festival in Moscow.

Another feature to be presented by the filmmaker in Moscow is from an American director Hilari Scarl. Her documentary – See What I`m Saying: The Deaf – revolves around four well-known deaf entertainers: a comic, a drummer, an actor, and a singer, all trying to reach mainstream audiences.

A heartbreaking story and a lesson in true love is Anita, from director Marcos Carnevale. It is the story of a Jewish girl with Down syndrome, who lives with her mother in Buenos Aires. After an explosion, her mother disappears and Anita goes in search of her. She survives only thanks to the kindness of people she meets on the way.

And that is exactly the message the “Breaking Down Barriers” festival is longing to spread. What all people, able and less so, do need, is just a little kindness.

­Valeria Paikova, RT