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Petra's Poem

Petra's Poem

| 4 min

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.

  • poem writing
    Petra Tolley
  • performer
    Petra Tolley
    Matthew Brotherwood
    Daninah Cummins
    Kenneth Freeman
    Amy Glass
    Nicholas Herd
    Aldene Hussett
    Katherine Newton
    Angela Radford
    Sean Rowley
    Katy Sparling
    Katie Tanner
    Paul Wong
  • director
    Shira Avni
  • writer
    Shira Avni
  • original drawings
    Petra Tolley
  • animation
    Shira Avni
    Paul Tom
  • additional animation
    Dominique Doktor
    Han Han Li
  • choreography
    Shira Avni
    Petra Tolley
  • cinematography
    Carrie Haber
  • editing
    Carrie Haber
  • lighting
    Robert DiVito
  • studio
    Robert DiVito
  • camera assistant
    Dan Thornhill
    Paul Tom
  • sound design
    Luigi Allemano
  • original music
    Luigi Allemano
  • musician
    Lina Allemano
    Luigi Allemano
    Timothy Bruce Halliday
    Maude Lussier
    Madeleine Messier
    Christian Prévost
    Julie Triquet
  • foley
    Karla Baumgardner
  • post-production
    Éloi Champagne
    Randall Finnerty
    Denis Gathelier
    Susan Gourley
  • music recording
    Geoffrey Mitchell
    Mathieu Leroux
  • foley recording
    Geoffrey Mitchell
    Mathieu Leroux
  • re-recording
    Shelley Craig
  • stereoscopic 3D
    Benoît Chagnon
    Munro Ferguson
    Kyler Kelly
    Paul Kroitor
    Maral Mohammadian
    Isabelle Painchaud
  • technical coordination
    Steve Hallé
    Julie Laperrière
  • administration
    Rosalina Di Sario
    Gisèle Guilbault
    Elaine Largie
  • executive producer
    Roddy McManus
    David Verrall
  • producer
    Shira Avni
    Michael Fukushima


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Ages 10 to 14

Diversity - Diversity in Communities
English Language Arts - Poetry
Health/Personal Development - Bullying & Discrimination

Before the film, have students brainstorm or free write about experiences with individuals affected by mental disabilities. After the film, ask the class about the issues it addresses and feelings it expresses, and whether it influenced their views about their previous experiences. Engage students in activities to raise awareness of social challenges faced by disabled people. Identify words and phrases in the poem that crystallize the writer’s experience. Have students write about a painful or meaningful experience using similar techniques.

Petra's Poem
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