Why I Selected the Films – Ruth Gould

In a world which over sentimentalises or demonises the lives of disabled people, it was a joy to watch and been my most shared film ever since.

We have asked each of our film panelists why they have selected their films for Elements, and here are the answers from Ruth:

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Film One: Annie Dearest – May 2009 by Mickee Faust Club

I first saw this in the National Disability Film Festival in London and it impacted me as to how powerful – even as a parody – the work of disabled artists/film-makers can be. It is hysterically funny, though very dark in humour, whilst at the same time getting a very strong message across; that of the ‘lived experience of disability’. The usually portrayed, saint-like Annie, the saviour in the closed world of Helene Keller, is turned from ‘Mentor to Tormentor’.

In a world which over sentimentalises or demonises the lives of disabled people, it was a joy to watch and been my most shared film ever since. I have had the joy of working with the film creators at DaDaFest in 2012 and 2014, falling for the whole concept of Mickee Faust as a collective of marginalised people led by Donna-Marie Nudd [Annie in the Film] and the writer Terry Galloway. The film has actually been given the accolade of being one of the 25 most outstanding disability films made in the last five years by Disability World. You’d better enjoy watching it or I will get my coat hanger out of my handbag!!!

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Film Two: Blueprints for Change – Sept 2013 by members of Young DaDaFest

This is a little bit of shameless promotion. The young people involved in our work have shaped and created an eclectic and mixed programme of arts projects from Theatre, DJ’ing through to music and comedy since it began in 2002. Young DaDa worked with a group of young disabled and deaf people to make a short film about the barriers they face in attending youth projects.

The film was devised, written, filmed, edited and narrated by the young people themselves and includes interviews with their peers. The young people received training in film-making skills throughout the project. They say it how it is – and we who can be gate-keepers need to listen and allow them to explain why things can prevent them having access. Also the fact that this was entirely their work makes me personally delighted – ‘nothing about us without us’ has been declared since the disability movement began in the 70’s – and it is good to know that our younger generation know how to keep saying it loud and proud.

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Film Three: Freaks – 1932 Tod Browning

This is an historic film that really could have changed history if it had been accepted into the cinema after it was released in the early 30’s. Based in a travelling ‘freak show’ circus setting, it’s actors are REAL disabled people – shock horror! So much so, it was banned from public viewing – no license was granted until the early 1980’s and only then with an 18+ viewing certificate. If it had been accepted, life I would have been so different for us.

It is a strange story and turns the tables in the most unexpected ways – a story of fantasy, intermingled with the reality of life as a disabled person. It is simply a must viewing – and I challenge you to sing with them ‘ One of Us – Gobble’!

– Ruth Gould

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