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Exploring Down Syndrome Through Film (Ages 12-14)

Exploring Down Syndrome Through Film (Ages 12-14)

Discover touching portrayals, authentic stories, and inspiring characters that shed light on people with Down syndrome. These films celebrate love, art, and family and encourage empathy and understanding for students.

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Films in This Playlist Include
Petra's Poem
John and Michael
Lay Down Your Heart
Tying Your Own Shoes
Danny and Nicky

  • Tying Your Own Shoes
    2009|16 min

    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.

  • John and Michael
    2004|10 min

    This animated short pays tribute to two men with Down syndrome who shared an intimate and profoundly loving relationship that deeply affected the filmmaker. Narrator Brian Davis brings the characters to life with great sensitivity.

  • Petra's Poem
    2012|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.

  • Danny and Nicky
    1969|55 min

    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.

  • Lay Down Your Heart
    2022|1 h 5 min

    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.