David Roche’s Wide Angle Media Festival short has underlying message about inner beauty
Lisa Bailey


Inspirational humourist David Roche loves to be on stage engaging others but knows he – and other individuals who have a disability – can reach more people through the artistic medium of film.

It’s why he’s delighted to be part of next month’s Wide Angle Media (WAM) Festival in Vancouver co-produced by Kickstart Disabilities Arts and Culture, posAbilities and the Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion.

“I love theatre, I love being with an audience but if you want to reach more people, this is what you have to do,” David says.

The festival, the first in B.C. for film makers who have a disability, will feature five commissioned shorts including David’s Beauty School.

He describes it as a funny film set in a beauty salon where an esthetician, played by David, encounters two women, one of whom thinks she needs a face transplant. Beauty School has a “reasonably happy ending,” says David, who hopes viewers will come away laughing and encouraged from his first-ever screenplay and fictional acting performance.

He says there is an underlying message in the film that beauty comes from within – something David says he’s learned in the 20 years he’s been on stage talking about his facial disfigurement using humour from the heart. He says he’s also come to realize that everyone feels disfigured in some way and if it’s not dealt with, emotional and spiritual maturity cannot be realized. This place of fear and doubt also leaves one vulnerable to bullies and predators.

The film, for which he was encouraged and mentored by fellow WAM Festival film maker Jan Derbyshire and others, is another step in David’s intensely personal artistic journey.

“I feel this is an opportunity to put out what I’ve learned,” he says, adding it’s “way past the time” for people who have a disability to do this.

“We have something to bring, we have something to teach,” David says.

In making Beauty School, David says he’s learned a whole new approach to communication – one that he sees could foster greater inclusion and understanding of people who have a disability because film is universally accessible. Films, for example, would be ideal to bring to educators and schools. A seven-minute film rich in content and humour and done in a way that kids like it can reach them, David says.

He looks forward to attending the WAM Festival, saying it’s great to see the collaboration and community support behind it. He sees it as an important event for the sense of pride, participation and accomplishment it can generate.

For more on the event, click here.

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