Forget being entertained as this film functions more as an education seminar.
A documentary that won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival, it serves to remind all of us of how disability discrimination in the U.S. was ended in the latter half of the 20th Century. Directed by Nicole Newnham and James Lebrecht, one of the lead characters, Barack and Michelle Obama were two of the Executive Producers.
The film begins at Camp Jened in the Catskills in 1971. A summer camp that reflected the “make love, not war” movement of that period, it attracted many disabled young people who could live for the first time in a free atmosphere. Their interaction boosted their confidence and will bring a tear to your eye.
While the camp closed in 1977, it inspired many to participate in a 25-day sit-in in San Francisco where they demanded Federal Regulations to acknowledge civil rights for the disabled. You were reminded how these afflicted Americans were denied access to buildings, vehicles and entertainment venues because of their physical impairments.
Judith Heumann emerged as the leader of the movement, and she became a female Martin Luther King. Hollyn D’Lil, a journalist who became a paraplegic after a road collision, preached their motto that disabled rights were rights for everyone.
Presidents from Nixon to Carter turned a deaf ear to their pleas, and it took George H. W. Bush to sign enforceable legislation. Though the film’s message became a bit diluted with its unnecessary length, it serves to remind all of us that discrimination comes in many colors.