My first time at the Sundance Film Festival was very memorable. A great documentary called CRIP CAMP opened the festival. The film features a camp in upper New York State called Camp Jened.
Long lost to the dustbin of our collective 1950s, 1960s and 1970s history, Camp Jened was a camp for people with disabilities. Now, you’ll be able to experience the impact of Camp Jened when CRIP CAMP premieres on Netflix in mid-March. The film should also have a limited theatrical release.
I got the opportunity to attend Sundance and see CRIP CAMP because, my parnts, who are a filmmaker and former actress turned political and environmental activist, invested in the film.
The documentary looks at Camp Jened and its participants, who helped start the Disability Rights Movement, part the larger Civil Rights Movement. The film underscores an important idea that:
· disabilities do not discriminate
· a disability doesn’t care what skin color you have
· a disability doesn’t care who you voted for, nor who you love
· a disability doesn’t care what language you speak
I am physically disabled with Cerebral Palsy and have been working on a long-term project regarding disabilities and voting rights. The fight for inclusion continues today, as there are still very few people with disabilities serving in Congress. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the protections guaranteed to people with disabilities, was passed in 1990 with bipartisan support from both houses of Congress.
In this new century, there are still very few serving in Congress who have the abilities to make laws to protect our lives as people with disabilities. It seems that the protections afforded to us are slowly, and quietly, getting rolled back.
CRIP CAMP received multiple rave reviews, such as this one from the NEW YORK TIMES and this one from Variety . The film also won the coveted Audience Award. On opening night, there was a standing ovation, at least twice.
Hopefully, CRIP CAMP will reignite the conversation about people with disabilities. It’s past time we are seen: as people who have lives like everyone else; and even people who run for the Senate and win – Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois did, and she currently serves as that state’s junior Senator, since 2017. One day, hopefully, we’ll even see a person with disabilities run for the Presidency of the USA.*
*The United States has already had a President with a disability, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who served as the 32nd President, 1933-1945 though he served at a time when the press didn’t discuss disabilities or ailments.. A President of the United States who has a disability in. the 21st Century should be able to talk about his/her disability without fear of being shamed or ridiculed.
Written by Mick Rosenthal Image Credit @mickster_rosenthal