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WAM supersedes expectations

Sold-out gala, well-received films, media attention among highlights
Tuesday April 3, 2012 — Camille Jensen

From a sold-out gala night to five well-received commissioned shorts and a plethora of media coverage, the first-ever Wide Angle Media (WAM) Film Festival demonstrated the contributions people who have a disability can bring to film, say event stakeholders.

The first-ever film festival in British Columbia to showcase films made by people who have a disability took place March 22-25 at Vancouver’s Roundhouse Community Centre.

The gala opening night and reception, which was hosted by the Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion (BACI), sold out with more than 200 people attending.

Articles were written in numerous community newspapers and blogs as well as coverage from 24 Hours Vancouver, the Georgia Straight and CBC.

Workshops aimed at helping aspiring filmmakers who have a disability were well-attended. Filmmakers also received the rare opportunity to meet one-on-one with film industry leaders.


“The overall feeling from our funders and our community is that we superseded expectations,” says S. Siobhan McCarthy, an artistic director at Kickstart Disability Arts and Culture and WAM festival producer.

Having worked in television and film, Siobhan says it was important to her that the festival be seen as an equal to mainstream Vancouver film fests.

“I really feel we accomplished that,” says Siobhan.

Geoff McMurchy, Kickstart Disability Arts and Culture artistic director, says film enables people who have a disability to take back control of their images and start to tell their own story. The screening of international films and commissioned shorts demonstrated that people who have a disability share the same desires and humour as everybody else.

“Through the medium of film in particular we are able to articulate that humanity,” says Geoff.

A commissioned film that generated buzz was Patience & Absurdity, which depicted a woman in a wheelchair who has multiple sclerosis caring for her aging mother.

“We often don’t think of people in a wheelchair taking care of others,” says Sylvi macCormac, the film’s producer, director and composer.

Sylvi says she’s honoured people could relate to her film, which recognizes that “we’re people first, and we all have varying levels of ability.” She says the film highlights the need to treat all people with respect and doing what we can for others.

“Isn’t that what families and communities do, or ought to do?” asks Sylvi.

BACI’s executive director Richard Faucher applauds everyone involved in WAM for making the event a success. He adds BACI plans to study WAM’s success factors to inform future collaborative projects and partnerships.

WAM was produced by Kickstart Disability Arts and Culture in partnership with BACI and posAbilities.

The next WAM film festival will take place in 2014.

Related Story:
WAM Film Festival Inspiring Collaboration Opportunities

If you have feedback on this article or a story to share please contact Camille at camille(at)axiomnews.ca, or call the newsroom at 800-294-0051.

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