Many characters with disabilities appeared in major films last year. They were in films like “The Theory of Everything”, “Still Alice”, “Gone Girl” and “American Sniper”. But just about all those characters were played by actors who did not have the character’s disability. Characters with disabilities are rarely seen in Australian movies and on television. Australian actress Kate Hood says not enough scripts are being written by writers with disabilities about people with disabilities. Casting agencies find it hard to get roles for people with disabilities. Actors Equity wants more characters with disabilities played by actors with disabilities.
“Still Alice” is a recently-released movie about a woman diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. It tells the story of university professor Dr Alice Howland. The disease causes memory and thinking problems. Alice is ashamed of the effects the disease has on her. The movie is based on a novel by Lisa Genova, whose grandmother had dementia. Alice is realistically portrayed by Julianne Moore who has won many awards for her performance, including an Oscar. “Still Alice” is a sad movie that offers little hope to those with Alzheimer’s.
“The Theory of Everything” is an award-winning film about Stephen Hawking. Stephen Hawking is one of the world’s most-known scientists. He is also well known because he has motor neuron disease. The movie is based on a book written by his first wife Jane Wilde Hawking. The movie does not sensationalise his disability. Instead, it shows him and his wife facing life’s frustrations with optimism. Eddie Redmayne convincingly portrays Hawking. Redmayne and the movie have been nominated for a number of Academy Awards. It is a movie for those who enjoy entertaining biographical dramas.
Audio description allows a person with a vision impairment to follow the action in the film. After a film is made, a professional narrator records a description of what is happening on the screen. The narration is added to the film and can be heard by a person using a radio and headset in the cinema. If there is a fight or a love scene, a good describer tells the listener exactly what is happening. For example, "Jack punches Fred in the chest". Cinema chains are setting up more screens with the special equipment needed for audio description. But there is still a fair way to go before every movie has audio description.
The Finishers is a French sports drama that really tugged at my heartstrings. It tells the tale of a very special relationship between a father and his son. Julien has cerebral palsy and his father Paul doesn’t know how to cope with this reality. After much convincing Paul agrees to enter a triathlon with Julien in Nice. As they prepare for the contest the barriers between them break down and father and son become closer than ever.
The Other Film Festival is held every two years. It shows films by, with or about people with disability. Entries for this year’s festival are open until 30 April. Rick Randall is its artistic director. He says it is rare for first-time filmmakers to have their work selected. But Gemma Falk’s first film screened at the festival in 2012. It has since been shown overseas. Rick advises beginners to seek support from experienced filmmakers. People can also contribute to the Other Film Festival as volunteers. The festival will run from 3 to 7 December 2014.
An Earfilm is a film that relies completely on audio and imagination. The audience is blindfolded. It uses 3D sound, a cinematic musical score and live storytelling and narration. An Earfilm will be held at the Melbourne Recital Centre. To Sleep to Dream will play from 7 to 11 March.
More and more people are making friendships online. Catfish is a film documentary about a romantic relationship that develops between a young man, Nev, and a young woman, Megan, on the social networking site Facebook.
Hollywood Costume is open until Sunday 18 August 2013, at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), Federation Square, Flinders street Melbourne.
The Hollywood Costume exhibition in Melbourne was a delight to the eye. From the stark black and white outfits used in Charlie Chaplin's silent films to the heavily laced and ornate period costumes used to depict Victorian royalty, the effect was stunning. The exhibition covered many different costumes designs from 1912 to the present. It showed many different trends in fashion, and these fitted the movie genre in which they appeared.
I have talked about my disability on television programs. In 2002 I was on the television show Australian Story . With the support of my family I spoke about schizophrenia. After the show I received caring letters and phone calls from the public. This support made me want to keep going on television. I wanted to educate people about schizophrenia. Before going on television I hid my disability. But not anymore. I have been on other television shows since that first time. Being on television has given me confidence and helped my relationships. It has also drawn attention to my writing.