Together! 2020 Disability Film Festival

Colour photograph of awards trophies.The international Together! 2020 Disability Film Festival is now over, but you can watch recordings of the live events and find links to many of the films to watch again within the full programme here. We thank Arts Council England, the National Lottery London Emergency Fund and the production union Bectu for their financial support.

The Together! 2020 Disability Film Festival screens films by Deaf/Disabled filmmakers and films with a strong central Deaf/Disabled character. Most of the films screened have been completed in the last 12-18 months and many are premieres.

Our priority is to provide a platform for strong storytelling, highlighting the lived experiences of Deaf/Disabled people from diverse backgrounds, and the talents of community, emerging and mid-career Deaf/Disabled filmmakers. Filmmakers do not need to identify as disabled themselves if Disabled people or Disability are the subject of the film. Deaf/Disabled filmmakers can submit work on any subject. Many of our films are world or international premieres, and go on to festivals worldwide. We also collaborate to cross-programme films with festivals including Oska Bright, SuperFest, Kynnskino and Little Wing and with BSL Zone, although opportunities for this have been limited in 2020. We also use our own ‘D’ rating system – one D each for a Deaf/Disabled (self-defined) person generating the film’s content, taking overall lead in making the film, and being the focus or star(s) of the film, working with or without support.

We give Kat Awards for Best First Film, Best Animation, Best Dance Film, Best Drama, Best Documentary, Best Film in a Language other than English, Best Accessible Film and Lifetime Achievement. This year’s winners are:

Best First Film. Steph Castelet: Living in Fear Captures and makes visible the experiences of large numbers of Disabled people in March 2020 through the story of one family.

Best Animation. Jem Clancy: Lights, Camera, Action A  beautiful hand-drawn work that everyone who has been empowered by their imagination since March can relate to. 

Best Dance Film. Danny Smith: Flashback We were impressed by the depth of the biographical choreography from this maturing artist as well as by the way in which imagery and film language was able to enhance the choreography. Danny used the practical constraints of Covid-19 to extend rather than restrict his creativity by moving from the studio to the natural outdoors at a time when many people are taking solace in nature, if only virtually.  

Best Drama. Velton J Lishke: Clouds The acting, directing and cinematography are of a high standard throughout, making for a gripping viewing experience. The film subtly highlights how ADHD — usually invisible in cultural representations of disability — can impact on families & how diagnoses can empower and facilitate change.

Best Documentary. Steven Ungerleider and David Ulich: Positive All the Way A well-made documentary which reveals the story behind the fundamental changes to the ways in which the Paralympics have been delivered and received in the 21st century, a story that begins much earlier.

Best Film in a Language other than English. Sahera Khan: Faith Faith was well conceived and challenging, with a subject matter that was subtly handled. The staging  and camera work was excellent. Overall, Faith left the viewer with a desire to see the next chapter.

Best Accessible Film. Signdance Collective International: The Time Project While others included captions and audio-description (we loved the live audio-description during the Festival presentation), Signdance Collective International went much further. While other people might have run workshops over Zoom, SDCI invited contributions to their artistic output which were not simply shown alongside the company’s work, but were worked on by company members to become part of the company’s work.

Lifetime Achievement. Justin Edgar The Reasonable Adjustment exhibition shows Justin reaching a new level as he returns to fine art for his new photographic and film-based work, but his CV was already incredibly impressive, as his Wikipedia and IMDB entries illustrate.

In order to extend access we always offer a virtual festival in addition to the screenings in East London, republishing the programme on the opening night with links to films that are available online. This year’s Festival is entirely virtual, using the Together! 2012 TV live-streaming facilities: click here to go straight to the programme. Over 1000 filmmakers submitted their films this year; we are pleased to bring you the best.

We are sorry not to be able to welcome you to East London as usual, but are pleased to be able to come to you instead. Whether you have travelled from up the road, across the UK or from further afield, we love to meet you, chat and enjoy films together. We also enjoy creating a pop-up cinema, most recently in the Victorian splendour of Stratford’s Old Town Hall, where we can offer a range of seating, including floor-cushions and our custom-built vibra-benches, as well as being able to offer free drinks and snacks, and live audio-description and caption-reading on demand. However, our regular British Sign Language Interpreter Kris Burrow is joining us for live events as usual, and thanks to the London Emergency Fund, live events also have live captions. So enjoy your own food, drink and comfortable seating, and enjoy a four-day feast of Disability Film from around the world.

Dr Ju Gosling
Artistic Director, Together! 2012 CIC