Academic Journal Reviews Diffability Hollywood

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We are proud to be reviewed by the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s  Raphael Raphael, PhD in the journal Review of Disability Studies. His review will appear in the upcoming Vol. 14, Issue 1.

Here are some kind words from the review:

The film not only offers a bird’s eye view of the ways in which those with disability had been portrayed on the screen, it also offers unprecedented, intimate glimpses into the lives of contemporary actors with disabilities and their experiences in the industry. It also is enriched by insights from non-disabled actors (e.g., Johnny Knoxville) about their experiences working with actors with disabilities in film. The stories of their professional lives also benefit from the voices of the parents and mentors who have facilitated their training and careers. The film’s insights into the lives of actors with disabilities, largely in their own words, is without peer in any documentary of which this writer is aware.

Dr. Raphael, like many people who see the movie, was especially moved by the Freaks segment in the film.

The film’s unique structure, moving between historical overview and portrait of artists, allows it to offer some unusual and very compelling content. This includes an informal reception study conducted by the director. In this portion of the film, a group of people with disabilities are gathered together for a screening of Tod Browning’s 1932 film ​Freaks. Watching their real-time reactions to the film and hearing their responses offers a rare and valuable glimpse into the varied ways in which real audiences respond to film and talk back to the screen. This is particularly valuable as very little research has been done on spectators with disabilities.

We can’t think of a higher praise for the film and we hope that this encourages educators to use the documentary in classes.

The film is recommended for the casual viewer but suitable also as a supplemental text in an extended seminar on disability in film and media. Overall this unique and compelling film fills a major gap. It is essential viewing for those interested in representations of disability and helps contribute to our understanding of the contradictory and often surprising ways in which film and disability may intersect.

Diffability Hollywood is available for educational use. Contact Espocinema for licensing purposes 

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