Spotlight on Disability Film Festivals: Sit Down Shut Up and Watch Film and New Media Festival

Listen to this post: 

In keeping with tradition, I’m letting you know about a remarkable film festival after it’s already passed. But I do believe late is better than never. And I do also believe I’ve stumbled upon kind of the greatest thing in the universe here.

If you interact with me in person or on Facebook, by now you’re getting pretty used to my exclamation point-filled posts about The Sisters of Invention and my praise for their powerfully activist song “This Isn’t Disneyland.” Since we’re going to show that video (captioned!) at our “Very Special Episodes” screening tomorrow, December 13th, I’ve been digging and digging to read all that I can about them and Tutti Arts, where they started out as the girl band Hot Tutti.

So it was only a matter of time before I came across Sit Down, Shut Up and Watch! Film and New Media Festival. Let me let them speak for themselves. From their website:


To live in a world where learning disabled people achieve their creative dreams and screen their work in Times Square, on iPhones and on every screen in-between.

Our Aims:

  • Form a community of like-minded learning disabled filmmakers and new media artists who can teach others
  • To have our voices heard and to be taken seriously
  • Get other learning disabled people to express themselves creatively through digital arts and technology
  • Encourage other learning disabled people in the wider Australian and global community to connect, making physical location far less significant for our social relationships
  • To become a force for social change

–The SDSW Festival Steering Committee

And now please enjoy this glorious short video where participants talk about themselves and why they’re interested in film. Cheers to them for including an individual with acquired brain injury in their program. The program is described as being for learning disabled people. At least here in the U.S. the brain injury community and learning disability communities are separate. That’s something you’ve probably also heard me talk about and lament a lot on this blog, on my podcast, all over Facebook, and in person. There are very good reasons that people with acquired or traumatic brain injury should be collaborating with folks with learning, developmental, and intellectual disabilities. Wouldn’t you want to learn the ropes from someone who’s already been there, done that? Wouldn’t you want to hang out with these folks who feel “awesomely great” about having a disability and are all ready to get to making some awesomely great movies?

This promises to be a fantastic festival and one more group and event on my ever-growing list of Australian fabulousness. One of the events at the festival was to discuss new technology developments that people with learning disabilities can use to make films. They also talked about barriers to making it in the industry. As a disabled filmmaker myself, I’m super excited to see conversations about technology and industry, not conversations that focus on an individual’s perceived deficits. These folks are here, they’re proud, they’re making films. So sit down, shut up and watch already!