7 Documentaries by Deaf and Disabled People to Watch After Crip Camp
If you recently watched Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution and want to learn more here are 7 documentaries by Deaf and disabled people for you to check out. These films are available for either rental, purchase, or by subscription on various platforms and websites.
You can find information about captions or audio description by going to each link. Happy watching!
Please note: this blog post is part of Alice Wong’s work as a consultant for Netflix.
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)
Directed and produced by Jen Brea
1 hour and 37 minutes
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.”
Who Am I To Stop It (2016)
Co-directed and produced by Cheryl Green and Cynthia J. Lopez
1 hour and 26 minutes (broken into 3 films)
From New Day Films:
“Who Am I To Stop It is a documentary about the traumatic brain injury community made by a filmmaker with disabilities from brain injury. It follows three artists as they navigate social isolation, stigma, and rebuilding their identities. They practice the arts to re-connect to their own sense of self-pride and to their larger communities. Rather than emphasize the injuries themselves or highlight medical aspects of disability, we explore consequences of institutional and internalized ableism. Through visual arts, music, and personal narrative, the subjects explore questions around poverty, sexuality, faith, family, success, and community. Using a biopsychosocial framework, Who Am I To Stop It deftly uncovers what lies beneath the surface for so many peers with brain injury and their communities.”
When I Walk (2013)
Directed by Jason DaSilva
1 hour and 21 minutes
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.
Documentarians often want to build trust and acceptance with their subjects. Being that I was the subject of my own film, and that I didn’t yet have that acceptance of myself, the filmmaking was arduous at first. There was always the internal struggle of putting myself on camera and deciding how much of myself I wanted to reveal. As I got worse and worse, reviewing the footage became emotionally difficult and physically draining. Living your life in the present while also reflecting upon it creatively, actively editing it and putting the pieces together in real time, put me in a psychological feedback loop that was tricky to negotiate. Every night after filming and editing, I would have dreams of being able to walk; then I’d wake up unable move and start the process of filmmaking all over again.”
Be sure to also check out When We Walk (2019)
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.”
9/11: Fear in Silence (2007)
Directed, written, and produced by Jade Bryan
Available for purchase from the filmmaker’s website.
From the filmmaker’s website:
“9/11 Fear in Silence: The Forgotten Underdogs is a compelling documentary about Deaf and Hard of Hearing people who were the FIRST citizens to become shut out from outside communication and ‘left in the dark,’ and the LAST to receive access to critical information, or be delivered from danger on September 11, 2001.
To show the film to a class, you are required to make an arrangement with the producer to seek a license for public performance rights.”
Vital Signs: Crip Culture Talks Back (1995)
Directed by David T. Mitchell and Sharon L. Snyder
Available for purchase from Icarus Films
From Icarus Films:
“This edgy, raw documentary explores the politics of disability through the performances, debates and late-night conversations of activists at a national conference on Disability & the Arts. Including interviews with well known disability rights advocates such as Cheryl Marie Wade, Mary Duffy and Harlan Hahn, VITAL SIGNS conveys the intensity, variety and vitality of disability culture today.”
Other notable documentaries featuring Deaf and disabled people
Directed, produced, and edited by Regan Brashear
Available from New Day Films
Deaf Jam (2012)
Directed by Judy Lieff
Kū Kanaka/Stand Tall (2015)
Directed by Marlene Booth