Short films of fiction and truth
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We had a great premiere of the three new short films, “The Tablet Shorts, Out.” It was one of the most diverse audiences I’ve had at one of my screenings. One really exciting thing for me as the producer? There were fewer people in the audience with brain injury than people with other types of disabilities. That might not sound like a big deal. For other disability arts events I attend like Wobbly Dance, Impetus Arts, and Disability Art and Culture Project, it’s old news. But for an event featuring artists with brain injuries (and Sam, who has CP!), this is a rousing success because it’s so unusual. People with brain injury have not been very active movers, shakers, and culture makers in the larger disability rights and justice communities. Lots of people have guesses about why that is. And maybe we’ll never fully understand the divide. It just makes me very happy to know that we’re bridging some gaps through art.
Increasing access led to some of this change. I hired a professional Audio Describer for the screening. She provided blind and low-vision audience members with spoken descriptions of the action and visuals throughout the films. Her microphone transmitted right into the ears of the audience members who requested descriptions. Without that, some of them would have missed massive amounts of the movies. We had captions on for anyone who might not be able to hear all the dialogue and sound effects. I personally like them because reading and hearing the words at the same time amps up my ability to pay attention.
The films in “The Tablet Shorts, Out” are “Treat,” “The Heart’s the Matter,” and “Kitchen Not!”. The stories, ideas, and film styles are about as different as three short films can be. So these films can really be interesting to a very broad audience. It’s not like only people in the brain injury community or only people in the disability community would enjoy them. Together, they touch on humor, horror, gore, health, surgery, stigma, poverty, race, disability, food, secrets, obsessions, death and advocacy. What a line up! Buy your copy of the DVD on my website here.
I really want people to know art made by people with disabilities can be enjoyable to people without disabilities! Everyone’s invited! The art and art forms are as unique as the people who make them. And while anyone can watch them, it’s good to recognize that disability art centers people with disabilities. That means the performers and creators are disabled, and that we’re also working in the needs and wants of disabled viewers.
Keep in touch, because soon I’ll put up a formal invitation for the Homegrown DocFest on December 13th. This screening is for a class I’m taking at NW Documentary where all the students will be premiering documentaries we each created in 10 weeks. My first-ever solo short documentary is called “Paper Visions.” Local artist Lavaun Heaster is the focus of the film. We explore her experiences as a disabled person becoming a dedicated artist entrepreneur.
While this film is not likely to be fully accessible to viewers who are blind or have low vision, Lavaun actually does some Audio Description within the film, not as an addition after it’s made! I’m looking forward to giving audiences a taste of viewing a film through language. It’s important to me that a film about an artist with low vision is made in a way that she can enjoy watching it. And while you might think “Oh, you should show a black screen for a while or shown the action blurry so we could get a sense of what it’s like for Lavaun,” you won’t be seeing simulations.
I turned on the camera and asked Lavaun what makes a movie accessible to her. I incorporated those things into the film. If the screen went black or blurry, a person who’s not blind might find that interesting. But Lavaun might think her eyes have quit working! So just because she is the subject of the film, I would not want to leave her out of the audience.