Almost Live | Shameless: the Art of Disability

Wednesday April 14, 2021 at 6:30 pm Pacific Time via Zoom

Shameless: the Art of Disability by award-winning film maker Bonnie Sherr Klein shows us how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go in the area of disability rights and representation in the arts. This special screening includes audio description and is presented courtesy of the National Film Board of Canada.

What does it mean to be disabled and how does it shape an artist’s work? Filmed in 2006, this documentary explores what is known as the disability art movement, following five artists—all of whom happen to have physical disabilities—through their creative work. Intense group discussions of artistic and personal goals are also recorded. Dispelling the myth of tragic disability, the film depicts its subjects as, first and foremost, creative people. The result is a profound look at, and celebration of, the act of making art—viewed through the lens of disability and the rejection of its stereotypes.

Shameless marks documentary film maker Bonnie Sherr Klein’s return to a career interrupted by a near fatal stroke in 1987. Joining Klein are four other artists with diverse (dis)abilities: humorist David Roche; writer, scholar and activist Catherine Frazee; dancer, choreographer and impresario Geoff McMurchy; and sculptor and writer Persimmon Blackbridge.

Special guests David Roche and Bonnie Sherr Klein will join host Amy Amantea for conversation and Q and A.

“Packed with humour and raw energy, Shameless is a revelation of a film: honest, vulnerable, and filled with unexpected beauty.”

Klein is an award-winning “pioneer of women’s cinema” (Not a Love Story: A Film about Pornography, 1981) who suffered two near fatal strokes in 1987 that left her paralyzed and able only to move her eyes as a means of communication. A respirator helped her to breathe and talk, and brain surgery and extensive rehabilitation allowed her to “fight her way back” from complete helplessness. Whether on a motorized scooter, a three-wheeled bicycle, a walker or two canes, Klein is both the interviewer and the interviewee who is in the driver’s seat as she works with her camera crew to document the individual stories of her diverse artist friends. Not only does the film intimately show each person’s (including Klein’s) vulnerabilities, frustrations and challenges, it uncovers a surprising and perhaps enviable richness of life that many so called “normal” people never experience. -Lois Brymer, CM Magazine

The VocalEye virtual lobby opens at 6:30 pm Pacific Time for some socializing and community updates with host Amy Amantea. The pre-show introduction will begin at 6:45 pm with Amy and special guests. The show begins at 7 pm with a running time of approximately 70 minutes, followed by conversation, Q and A and a prize draw.

Register here for your VocalEye Zoom invitation or call 604-364-5949. 

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Bonnie Sherr Klein and her husband Michael immigrated to Canada in 1967 as resisters to the US war in Vietnam. Bonnie directed documentary films in the National Film Board’s Challenge for Change Programme and the feminist Studio D, including ORGANIZING FOR POWER: The Alinsky Approach; VTR ST. JACQUES, the first Canadian experience in community video; SPEAKING OUR PEACE: A Film about Women, Peace, and Power; and the infamous NOT A LOVE STORY: A Film about Pornography.

In 1987, at age 46, she experienced a catastrophic brainstem stroke due to a congenital anomaly. After years of rehabilitation, using her journals, she created radio programs and wrote SLOW DANCE: A Story of Stroke, Love and Disability, which won the VanCity Book Prize. She co-founded the KickstART Festivals of disability arts and culture; and directed SHAMELESS: The ART of Disability, a collaborative film with five disability artists. She has been recognized with honorary doctorates from Ryerson University and the University of British Columbia, a Persons Award, and investiture as an Officer of the Order of Canada.

David Roche is an inspirational humorist, keynote speaker and performer who has transformed the challenges and gifts of living with a facial difference into a compelling message that uplifts and delights audiences around the world.

David has been immersed in disability culture for almost a quarter of a century as a humourist, solo performer, author, director, stage/screen actor and storytelling coach. He has performed his signature one-man show, The Church of 80% Sincerity, across the U.S. and in Canada, England, New Zealand, Australia and Russia. David has appeared at the Clinton White House and headlined at Olympics Arts Festivals in Sydney, Australia and Vancouver. His many film appearances include the recently released, Happy Face.