The Together! Disability Film Festival is a free festival for all film lovers, as well as for those who want to see disabled people’s lives represented within the moving image, and/or learn more about the diverse communities and individuals that make up 1 in 4 of the UK’s population. Running from 6-8pm on 9 December and from 12-8pm on 10 & 11 December (read on for the programme), with screenings before 6pm suitable for a family audience, the Together! 2016 Disability Film Festival brings together films of all budgets, lengths and genres from across the world that are either made by a disabled filmmaker, or feature a significant disabled character(s). The Festival includes films by and about people with learning difficulties, people with mobility or sensory impairments, people with mental health difficulties and people with long-term health conditions. The majority of the films have not been shown in London before, and many of the filmmakers will be present.
The Festival is intended to be fully accessible, with step-free access, ‘relaxed’ screenings, an induction loop and live audio-description on demand. Most of the films are short, and audience members are welcome to come and go as they please. Many of the films are captioned, have BSL interpretation or contain no language. However, the Festival is aimed at a mainstream audience rather than just disabled people and their friends and families.
Together! 2012 CIC Artistic Director Dr Ju Gosling explains:
“This is the fifth annual Together! Disability Film Festival, and every year we have a feast of films with something to appeal to every taste. While there are still very few images of disabled people within the mainstream, the Together! Disability Film Festival shows the breadth and diversity of disabled people and their experiences, along with the talents of emerging and mid-career disabled filmmakers. All of us, always, learn something new, but principally what we take away from the weekend is a huge amount of enjoyment.
“Stratford also offers some great Xmas shopping opportunities, both in central Stratford and at Westfield, and lots of places to eat and drink and hang out with friends. This is the one weekend of the year you can spend surrounded by myriad positive images of disabled people, rather than seeing few or none.”
TOGETHER! 2016 DISABILITY FILM FESTIVAL PROGRAMME
FRIDAY 9 DECEMBER 2016
6pm: Rolling Strong. Marianela Vega Oroza. Peru. 2015. WORLD PREMIERE. Our opening night pays tribute to the anniversary of London 2012 and the Rio 2016 Paralympics. ROLLING STRONG is a feature-length documentary film (in Spanish with English subtitles) that tells the story of the first wheelchair rugby team in Peru. They are a group of men and women from different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds who got together three years ago to play a new sport of which they—and their whole country—knew little about. The film follows them for two years, showing their process of coming together as a team, the excitement of their first international tournaments and the goals, dreams and motivations that guide their everyday struggle on and off the court. PLUS We’re the Superhumans. Katherine Araniello. 2016. “An Olympics trailer I can finally relate to.”
SATURDAY 10 DECEMBER 2016
12.30-1.30pm: SCREENING & DEBATE: DOUBLE DISCRIMINATION With BSL Interpretation. A light lunch will be provided. Do disabled actors and filmmakers from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups (BAME) face twice the barriers that their peers do? What should we all be doing to acknowledge and tackle discrimination, both within the disability community and the mainstream? All are welcome to discuss this important issue on World Human Rights Day. Includes a screening of Rinkoo Barpaga’s Double Discrimination, investigating Deaf people’s experiences of racism, including leading figures in the Deaf community.
2pm: FILMS FROM THE EAST Films by locally based filmmakers. Includes films from Richard House children’s hospice and Powerhouse women, and the UK premiere of My Shape, an audio-visual performance piece presenting the poetry of the late, great Barbara Stewart (1956-2016) by Stephen Lee Hodgkins.
3pm: ANIMATION Includes films by Lucy Skuce, Katherine Araniello, Stephen Lee Hodgkins and Steven Cole.
3.30pm: SHORT DOCS 1 Deaf and Disabled people talk about their love of London; describe how the seasons affect their mood; reflect on how life has changed for people with learning difficulties over the past few decades; and how the Deaf community reacted to a lesbian coming out in the 1960s. Includes films by Matthew Goodsell, Mark Hemsworth, Ben Ewart-Dean and BSL Zone.
4.45pm: Terminal Device. Ross Turnbull. Canada. 2016. 68:00. UK PREMIERE. Who is Captain Hook? And why is he so scary? Ross Turnbull is a ‘man with a hook’ who explores how prosthetics are pictured in films and popular culture in this autobiographical journey. Screened with English captions and audio-description.
6pm: Alex Herz. A Normal Life. US. 2016. 72:00. UK PREMIERE. Join us on World Human Rights Day for the UK premiere of a feature film exploring family ties and independent living. Two brothers are due to be parted when the elder leaves for college in Alex Herz’s first feature. But will the younger brother, who has Down Syndrome, be allowed to become independent too? This sensitive and moving film is based on the filmmaker’s lived experience.
SUNDAY 11 DECEMBER 2016
12pm: ARTISTS FILMS & VIDEOS Includes films about the British Paraorchestra, Joy of Sound, the Troublemakers youth arts project, conductor James Rose, artists Katherine Araniello and Richard Hunt and writer Russell Highsmith; and films by Sean Burn and Penny Woolcock.
1.15pm: SHORT DOCS 2 Deaf and disabled people talk about the barriers they face in employment; finding their identity as a Deaf person through love; and finding their identity as a Deaf person through moving to the UK. Films are from Creative Opportunities and BSL Zone.
2.45pm DANCE Short films from Liberdade, Tae Catford and Danny Smith, plus Flying Monk’s feature-length documentary Heels and Wheels, about competitive wheelchair ballroom dancing.
4pm: SHORT DRAMAS Friends tackle a young man who prefers to play video games than leave the house; a relationship is carried out by post across countries; a wheelchair user challenges onlookers with his ‘normality’; a teacher at a Deaf school is murdered; a town is under siege – just some of the stories in films by CanDo Films, Teresa Garratty, Louis Neethling, The Clonmel Busking and Arts Festival, Louise Lenihan and Simone Tunbridge, Jerome Rehioui, Liberdade and Paul Green.
6pm: What Doesn’t Kill Me: The Life and Music of Vic Chesnutt. Scott Stuckey. US, 2016. UK PREMIERE. In 2006, NPR listed Vic Chesnutt at #5 on its list of Top Living Songwriters. Quadriplegic all of his adult life, Chestnutt, who died in 2009, was widely respected by musicians and music fans for his songs about vulnerability and mortality. Directed by longtime D.C. filmmaker Scott Stuckey, the film tells the bittersweet story of the singer/songwriter’s lifelong search for inner peace, after a drunken driving crash that broke his neck, shortly after high school. Ian MacKaye, influential D.C. punk pioneer and founder of Dischord Records observed, “Maybe America’s not ready for a superstar in a wheelchair.”
Echoes. Josh Merritt. UK. 2016. LONDON PREMIERE. An ageing, reclusive rock star gives a rare interview with an inexperienced, anxious young journalist. But what connects them?
Old Town Hall, 29 The Broadway, Stratford, London E15 4BQ. 020 3373 7033 /07791 291 685. Nearest tube, overground and DLR stations: Stratford (fully accessible). Bus routes include 25, 69, 86, D8, 104, 108, 158, 238, 241, 257, 262, 276, 308, 425, 473, N8, N86, 010, A9, 741 & UL1. Blue Badge holders can prebook parking; others are advised to use the (old) Stratford shopping centre carpark.