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.
“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.
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 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.
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 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.
In a check-box society that functions by dividing us into neatly-defined categories, where does someone with a strong mind and a weak body fit in? Dr. Heidi Janz - award-winning playwright, accomplished academic, and self-described ‘crip’ – has a curious problem. Despite her obvious physical limitations she is denied financial assistance from government programmes because of her “productive” mind. Following Heidi through her everyday life, with all its unique responsibilities, opportunities, and challenges, We Regret to Inform You... offers an unsentimental, and unapologetic, look at what it means to be both “disabled” and “productive”.
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 documentary introduces us to Stephen Jenkinson, once the leader of a palliative care counselling team at Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital. Through his daytime job, he has been at the deathbed of well over 1,000 people. What he sees over and over, he says, is "a wretched anxiety and an existential terror" even when there is no pain. Indicting the practice of palliative care itself, he has made it his life's mission to change the way we die - to turn the act of dying from denial and resistance into an essential part of life.
This animated short tells the story of Trudy, a little girl who is equal parts truthful and rude. A bright-minded and quick-witted child, Trudy has an unfiltered and deeply curious way of looking at the world. Here, events force her to question what it means to speak the truth, and comes to understand how our differences make us unique.
This award-winning animation is a poignant interpretation of a short story by Montreal author Mordecai Richler. It makes a strong statement about how many families respond to their old and infirm members. In washes of watercolour and ink, filmmaker Caroline Leaf illustrates reactions to a dying grandmother, capturing family feelings and distilling them into harsh reality.
Ages 15 to 17
Study Guide - Guide 1
Diversity - Identity
Ethics and Religious Culture - Ethical Values
Lead a discussion on living in harmony, showing tolerance and accepting differences, particularly in regard to people with Down syndrome. Show that these young people struggle with some of the same problems as anyone else, and want to love and be loved, find acceptance and realize their fullest potential as individuals in society