This feature documentary offers a comparison of the care of two boys with Down syndrome. Danny lives at home with his brothers and sisters and attends a special neighborhood school for children with disabilities. Nicky lives in a large institution for persons with intellectual disabilities. This film clarifies common misconceptions about intellectual disabilities, and presents an intimate portrait of the families, staff, and communities that come together to assist Danny and Nicky in learning, playing, and living a fulfilling life.
This short documentary is a fascinating portrait of the Vancouver Mental Patients' Association (MPA), a unique, democratically-organized advocacy and support group for people who have sought care in the mental health system. While client-centred care and advocacy in mental health are relatively more common now, they were unfamiliar concepts in the 1970s, and this film sheds light on the birth of this nascent movement. The MPA provides support and a space for discussion, which helps those dealing with mental health problems to re-integrate into their communities after sojourns in hospitals or other institutions. Members' comments afford some insight into what has been called the "mental health industry."
In this short documentary about autism, director Anna Barczewska examines the complex challenge of raising autistic children. Through the voice of Jan's devoted mother and the comments of specialists, the film offers an introduction to this neurological disorder that reduces one’s ability to communicate with the outside world.
WARNING: This film discusses the topic of OCD. Viewer discretion is advised.
This feature documentary explores the daily lives of individuals living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), a misunderstood anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts, nagging fears and ritualistic behaviour. From the outside, its sufferers have no physical disabilities and have every appearance of being as functional as the next person. But inside, a daily war is waged for survival.
This short documentary introduces us to Martin Langlois, an autistic 22 year-old who is transferred to Maison Emmanuel when his devoted parents can no longer care for him. Maison Emmanuel is an alternative therapeutic community in Quebec’s Laurentian mountains that offers residents the ability to develop their life skills and particular gifts and abilities. Run by Inge Sell and her team, it is now home to 20 children and young adults, and forms part of a worldwide network of similar communities.
“We’re beautiful, the whole gang. We’re special,” says Jean of the 15-odd employees at The Artisan—a workshop employing people with intellectual disabilities. Jean is the self-described “handyman and best-looking” member of the group. A moving celebration of difference, The Artisans captures daily life at an organization where the workers are as courageous as they are colourful.
An intimate look into the mind of Niall McNeil, an artist and performer with Down syndrome, and his unique chosen family. In Lay Down Your Heart, Niall introduces us to his many “family members,” his multiple “children,” his renowned “ex-wife” and director of the film Marie Clements, and other bonds forged through open-hearted creativity.
This short animated documentary offers an intimate glimpse into the exceptional mindsets and emotional lives of four adult artists with Down Syndrome. An artful, four-way essay about ability, film explores how it feels to be a little bit unusual.
In her follow-up to her award-winning film, John and Michael, filmmaker Shira Avni pursues a deeper understanding of esteem and disability by inviting Petra, Matthew, Daninah, and Katherine to consider their pasts, relationships and ambitions.
In this short film, Toronto artist Petra Tolley, who has Down syndrome, performs a soliloquy that encapsulates her distinctive take on the social self. Drawing from her emotional experiences, she illustrates what it feels like to be “in the middle.” Employing rotoscopy, hand-drawn animation techniques and subtle stereoscopic 3D, the film captures Petra as she engages the camera with unflinching directness and dignity.
This animated short, etched directly onto tinted 70 mm film, depicts the story of two sisters: Viola, who writes novels in a dark room, and Marie, her only companion. Disfigured, Viola counts on her sister to take care of her and shelter her from the outside world. But when an unexpected stranger turns up on their front door, the sisters' quiet lives are disrupted and their routine turns to chaos.
An illustration of the rather unique way in which the day hospital of the Allan Memorial Institute in Montréal helps patients back to mental and emotional health. Patients not requiring full hospitalization come for daytime treatment and return to their homes at night. The case presented is that of a young woman who is under severe emotional stress. Interviews with a psychiatrist and group therapy sessions reveal the root of her trouble and set her on the path to overcoming her problem.