Sunday, March 11, 2012

Documentaries, TV, & film about people with disabilities and disability issues for use in university courses

Resource from presentation by Beth Haller at CUNY ESA Conference 2012, “Cripples, Idiots, Lepers, and Freaks: Extraordinary Bodies / Extraordinary Minds” - March 22, 2012 

Image from the documentary "King Gimp"
Mass media about people with disabilities and disability issues for use in university courses
(All these are available in DVD format or online. Disability or issue is listed in parentheses. Also listed are links to its website or Disability Studies analyses of it. You can find other films here: Please contact me if you have additions or links for the list:

Alicia (living with brain injury) (A promising 18-year-old drama student sustains brain damage; her response to her disability was to start a theatre group and become an active member of the community)

Autism: The Musical (Follows the lives of five LA children on the autism spectrum over the course of six months as they prepare for a musical production)

Body & Soul: Diana and Kathy (Two women with disabilities support each other and live independently)

Body of War (Focuses on returning disabled veteran Tomas Young, 25, who became paralyzed from a bullet to his spine - wounded after serving in Iraq for less than a week)

Bong & Donnell (A friendship between a disabled boy and a nondisabled boy) 

Born Freak (Disabled actor Mat Fraser explores how disabled performers survived working in freak shows)

Breathing Lessons. The Life and Work of Mark O’Brien (Polio survivor Mark O’Brien, who was a writer and poet) Watch free online here:

Bulgaria's Abandoned Children (Free online documentary about Bulgaria, which has more institutionalized mentally and physically disabled children than anywhere else in Europe.)

Code of the Freaks (Examines Hollywood images of disability, tracing themes from the 1920s to the present)

Deaf Jam (A deaf teen begins to perform ASL poetry and decides to perform at a poetry slam)

Defining Beauty: Ms. Wheelchair America (Behind-the-scenes look at the 2010 Ms. Wheelchair America Pageant)

Enable (People with disabilities and technology)

Freedom Machines (About the significant impact of technology in the lives of people with disabilities)

A Friend Indeed-The Bill Sackter Story (True story of Bill Sackter, who left a lifetime in an institution to emerge as an international hero for people with disabilities) Full documentary online:

F**k the Disabled (Gay, disabled comedian Greg Walloch chronicles his life and comedy career)

Going Blind (Blind people tell their personal stories)

The Horse Boy (Tale of family resilience in the face of a young boy’s autism)

How to Die in Oregon (Focuses on physician-assisted suicide in Oregon)

I Can’t Do That But I Can Do This (Kids with learning disabilities discover their abilities)

Including Samuel (A film about inclusion. The family of Samuel, who has CP, works to include him in all facets of their lives.)

Journey into Dyslexia (Profile of dyslexic professionals, thriving students and compassionate educators)

The Key of G (Man w/ Mowat-Wilson syndrome & independent living) 

The Kids are All Right (Online documentary about protests against the MDA Telethon) 

King Gimp (Artist w/ CP Dan Keplinger; education access)

Lives Worth Living (The disability rights movement in the USA)

Marwencol (Artist with TBI, PTSD creates elaborate miniature scenes depicting WWII)

Monica & David (A couple with Down syndrome marry and start life together)

A Mother’s Courage: Talking Back to Autism (Discusses facilitated communication and the Rapid Prompting Method)

Murderball (Athletes with disabilities; Paralympics)

Music by Prudence (African musicians with disabilities)

My Classic Life as an Artist: A Portrait of Larry Bissonnette (An autistic man becomes an outsider artist after leaving a life in an institution)

My Country (It profiles three people with disabilities whose lives have been shaped by the struggle for equal rights) Watch it here:

The Nerves of Us  (focuses on Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR), a surgery for people with CP)

No Bigger Than a Minute (Little person describes his life & societal attitudes)

The Other Child (Short documentary about brothers and sisters when one sibling has autism)

A Paralyzing Fear: The Story of Polio in America

Plan F (Blind man who is an occupational therapist turned auto mechanic)

Praying with Lior (A teen with Down syndrome prepares for his bar mitzvah)

Raising Renee (A woman with an intellectual disability becomes more independent after living with her artist sister)

See What I'm Saying: The Deaf Entertainers Documentary (It follows the journeys of four extraordinary deaf entertainers over the course of a single year as their stories intertwine and culminate in some of the most important events of their lives)

Shameless: The Art of Disability (Art, activism and disability)

Smile Pinki (Indian girl’s life is changed when she finally gets surgery for her cleft palate)

Todd Selby x Christine Sun Kim (Christine Sun Kim is a Deaf performance artist working to reclaim the world of sound for herself. Todd Selby is a blind filmmaker) View here:

There's Still Hope For Dreams...a Phamaly Story (It follows a theatrical group comprised entirely of disabled performers.)

Through Deaf Eyes (200-year history of Deaf life in America)

Touch the Sound (A sound journey with internationally known deaf percussionist Evelyn Glennie)

Tying Your Own Shoes (Short animated documentary about four adult artists with Down Syndrome)

The United States of Autism

Vital Signs: Crip Culture Talks Back (Disability culture; disabled artists)

War Torn 1861-2010 (Documentary about the disabling effects of war)

We Are PHAMALy (Follows members of the musical theatre troupe PHAMALy (the Physically Handicapped Amateur Musical Actors League) as they prepare for their production of Once Upon A Mattress)

When Billy Broke His Head (A man with TBI explores the disability rights movement)

When I’m Not Alone (A transgender disabled man becomes a disability advocate)

Where's Molly? (A brother finds his disabled sister in an institution after 47 years and re-establishes a loving relationship)

Willowbrook: The Last Great Disgrace (Short documentary about the notorious institution for people with disabilities on Staten Island, NY)

Wretches and Jabberers (Two autistic men travel the world as advocates)

Yellow Brick Road (Theater program for people with intellectual disabilities)


Adam (Autism)

Assisted Living (Wheelchair use)

A Beautiful Mind (Mental illness)

Beeswax (Wheelchair user)

Beyond Silence (Deaf community)

Canvas (Mental illness)

Children of a Lesser God (Deaf community)

The Color of Paradise (Blind person)

The Diving Bell & The Butterfly (Locked-in syndrome)

Dumb & Dumber (Blind person)

The Elephant Man (Neurofibromatosis type I and Proteus syndrome)

Fanaa (Blind person)

Finding Nemo (Memory problem; disabled fin)

Freaks (Multiple disabilities)

Girlfriend (Down syndrome) Watch here for $5:

Harvey Krumpet (Tourette’s syndrome, Alzheimer’s)

The King's Speech (Stuttering)

Mabul – The Flood (Autism)

Mary and Max (Asperger’s, obesity)

Million Dollar Baby (Wheelchair use)

Mozart and the Whale (Autism)

Music Within (CP; hearing loss)

Musical Chairs (Wheelchair use; amputee)

My Left Foot (CP) Longmore, P. K. (1990). The glorious rage of Christy Brown. Disability Studies Quarterly, 10,  23-25.

My Name is Khan (Autism)

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Multiple disabilities)

Quid Pro Quo (Wheelchair user)

Rain Man (Autism)

The Ringer (Intellectual disabilities)

Rory O’Shea Was Here (CP)

Saved (Wheelchair user)

The Sea Inside (Wheelchair use)

Seabiscuit (Visual impairment, cane use)

Shine (Mental illness)

Simon Birch (Little person)

Sling Blade (Intellectual disability)

Snowcake (Autism)

The Soloist (Mental Illness)

The Station Agent (Little person)

The Tic Code (Tourette’s syndrome)

There’s Something about Mary (Intellectual disability)

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (Intellectual disability)

Whole (BIID)

X-Men, X2 (Wheelchair use)

Yo, Tambien (Down syndrome)

Entertainment TV

American Horror Story (Down syndrome)

Boston Legal (Little person; autism)

Breaking Bad (CP; cancer)

CSI (Amputee; hearing loss)

Family Guy (Wheelchair user)

Friday Night Lights (Wheelchair user)

Glee (Down syndrome; wheelchair use)

Heroes (Wheelchair use)

House (Cane use; substance abuse)

Joan of Arcadia (Wheelchair user)

Life Goes On (Down syndrome)

Monk (OCD)

Nip/Tuck (Multiple disabilities; Little person)

Parenthood (Autistic child)

Pelswick (Wheelchair user)

Private Practice (Wheelchair use; substance abuse)

Quads (Wheelchair users)

The Secret Life of the American Teenager (Down syndrome)

Sesame Street (Wheelchair user)

South Park (Wheelchair use; walker use)

Switched at Birth (Deaf community)

United States of Tara (Mental illness)

Reality TV

The Amazing Race (Little person; Deaf person; Autism)

Dancing with the Stars (Amputee; Deaf person)

Extreme Home Makeover (Many episodes make over home for disabled adult or child)

How’s Your News? (All stars have intellectual disabilities)

The Specials (UKWeb series about group home of adults with intellectual disabilities)

Last Comic Standing (2006 winner, Josh Blue, has CP)

The Little Couple (Little people)


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