The more disability is seen, the more it will be accepted, says program director
Deb Bartlett

When the Wide Angle Media (WAM) festival wraps up, the hope is that the event was well attended and opportunities for people with developmental disabilities have increased.

PosAbilities is a partner in the festival, the first in B.C. for filmmakers who have a disability.

One of posAbilities’ program directors, Gord Tulloch, hopes the festival is well attended, but admits it will be hard to tangibly measure its impact.

“How do we measure the impact media has had on social attitudes towards same-sex relationships? We talk anecdotally about gay characters that emerge in sitcoms and movies. I think we can all acknowledge and experience that social consciousness has changed because of the visibility,” says Gord.

Ideally, the exposure that people with developmental disabilities have at WAM will lead to more inclusion in media of people who have disabilities in media.

“We’re looking for people with developmental disabilities to be playing roles in movies,” says Gord.

“We’re looking for them to be in commercials and sitcoms because we believe the more that happens, the more society will make space for them,” he says.

Gord recalls the time short stories about people with developmental disabilities were screened at the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF).

A question and answer session was held after the screenings and a writer/screenplay producer commented that the stories were “a revolutionary moment for him. He’d never imagined the possibilities of disability in media,” says Gord.

He hopes that one of WAM’s outcomes is that people become more aware of the fact the people with developmental disabilities are “capable of making equal contributions to our world, making it better, making it more beautiful and richer. That’s part of the thread of diversity that’s been missing from our communities,” says Gord.

WAM organizers are looking at holding the festival every second year and Gord hopes participation from filmmakers and attendees will grow.

PosAbilities is also nurturing a relationship with VIFF, and Gord says part of the reason for the relationship is “because we want to see these movies played in mainstream.”

WAM will be held March 22-25 at Vancouver’s Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre.

 For related stories, click below:

Wide Angle Media Festival features films by people who have a disability

Gord Tulloch hopes film festival will change perceptions

For more on the event, visit the Kickstart website here.

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