Filmmakers Strive to Raise Awareness of the Disabled in Entertainment With Fully-Formed Characters
11 August 2017
A slate of short films depicting lead characters with disabilities has been making the rounds at film festivals worldwide, giving voice to a demographic mostly ignored in mainstream cinema and TV. “Blindness,” Annette Cyr’s impassioned study of a painter discovering she will lose her eyesight made waves at the Palm Springs Intl. Shortfest this June, along with Mari Sanders’ documentary short “80% Disabled,” which exposes what life is like for a handicapped filmmaker yearning to live independently.
“Flesh of My Flesh,” written and directed by award-winning South African filmmaker Matthys Boshoff, has screened at numerous fests, including the 2017 Nashville Film Festival. The film is a haunting, heartbreaking — and sometimes humorous — semi-autobiographical look at a married couple whose lives are devastated when their daughter dies in a car accident and the mother is left paralyzed from the neck down. In real life, Boshoff, raised in Pretoria, South Africa, was in a car accident at age 4 that took the life of his older sister.. His mother became a quadriplegic and his father her caretaker.
“What was interesting to me, in the context of a romantic relationship, was what happens when you get committed to somebody with an able body and then suddenly life happens and you’ve got to deal with it,” says Boshoff, who’s currently at work on the feature-length version of the film. “Where you often have the attention and the empathy and sympathy going towards the person who had the accident or has the disability, often it’s the caretaker who suffers the greatest psychological stress and is the most strained.”