Following along “Becoming Bulletproof”
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In May, I reviewed the documentary “Becoming Bulletproof.” Great film! You gotta see it. That’s why I’m writing again: to make sure you see it. In fact, you can read the film with Closed Captions and hear the film with Audio Description. There’s a few different ways to get a hold of this movie and good reason to do so.
If you’re a friend of film festivals, keep your radar on. The movie has been touring to festivals since October, 2014. They’ve pulled in 10 awards and have been named Official Selection 10 times. These aren’t disability festivals. They’re the mainstream ones where “disability” isn’t necessarily even a film category to submit in. Check the listings in your area to find out if “Becoming Bulletproof” is on its way.
Another way to see this film is to bring it to a theater near you. Yep. You can do that. Gather up a bunch of people who want to see the film in a movie theater or a community setting, and Tugg.com arranges the screening for you.
As I mentioned in my review, the film’s target audience was the non-disabled community. When it comes to target audiences, you have to pick one. You can’t say, “The entire world is my target audience!” The team is doing a really bang up job of reaching out into disability communities as well. After all, one of the joys of this film is that people with a wide range of disability and impairment experiences can see someone like themselves onscreen. That is so rare, and promoting this kind of genuine representation is one of the film’s goals.
We want non-disabled people, especially those gatekeepers who train actors and filmmakers, cast films, and direct and produce to recognize and cherish the value of having people with disabilities in the cast, on the crew, and in leadership positions. Even today, even in good old 2015, there’s a training space that outright refused to allow a child with a disability into the program. They thought she should be segregated in a “special” school with other children facing access barriers. I linked to only one article, but it’s not like this happened in a vacuum by any means.
We also hope “Becoming Bulletproof” will be an affirmative experience for disabled people to see that even though discrimination is still expected and accepted in some places, it’s not that way everywhere. If you have a disability and you’re a performer, filmmaker, media artist, or you want to train in those areas and get to work, I really, really think you should go for it. The biggest barrier is likely to come in the form of bad attitudes and inaccessible spaces. The barrier is not your disability, no matter what disability it is. Accessible programs are out there, some that are mixed and some for disabled performers only. In some places, it’s going to take a fight, but we’re building a movement where accessible, inclusive, just arts opportunities are growing. We need you to join in so we can do this together.
I hope this film motivates you, if you’re not already out there performing and making media, to seek out accessible and social justice-oriented organizations and give it a shot. If you are already out there making it happen, drop me a line and share links to your work. We’d love to see it and will happily share it around!
[Images in this post of Jeremy Vest, Elizabeth McCurry, and AJ Murray, all stars of “Becoming Bulletproof” as they watch themselves onscreen in a movie theater. Images contain quotations from reviewers: “Five Stars” from The Examiner, “This year’s ‘must see’ documentary” from The Independent Critic, and “Simply the best film you and your family might ever get to see” from Jamie Lee Curtis and Christopher Guest.]