Arts and Entertainment

Sprouting awareness and acceptance

by ASHLEY MILLER
for the Sequim Gazette
 

Different doesn’t mean bad. It just means not the same.

 

The Sprout Touring Film Festival, which is coming to Sequim on Saturday, Oct. 15, shines a light on individuals with developmental disabilities through a series of hand-selected films.

 

Designed to benefit Snap, a local nonprofit for people with developmental disabilities and their families, the Sprout Touring Film Festival will present a variety of free movies and then a fundraising feature of “Wretches & Jabberers” on a big screen at Olympic Theatre Arts this weekend.

 

The goal of Sprout Films, according to Snap executive director Jenell DeMatteo, is to make “the invisible visible.”

 

“By presenting professional films of artistry and humanity, the festival reinforces accurate portrayals of individuals with developmental disabilities,” DeMatteo said. “The festival will provide an entertaining and enlightening experience that will help promote a greater acceptance of differences and awareness of similarities.”

 

How films are chosen

Sprout has a library of more than 130 films related to the field of developmental disabilities. All of the films were selected for the annual Sprout Film Festival held in New York City last spring.

 

A selection committee accepts films that have a realistic portrayal of the population, will be enjoyed by the general public and star actors and actresses with a disability. Then, Snap representatives select which films they would like to screen at their festival.

 

Anthony Di Salvo, Sprout Films executive director, reiterates the goal of breaking down stereotypes and promoting acceptance and awareness.

 

“By presenting films of artistry and intellect, the festival hopes to reinforce accurate portrayals of people with developmental disabilities and expose the general public to important issues facing this population,” he said.
 
The 2011 Sprout Film Festival schedule

1 p.m. program
“Champion”
(2.5 minutes)
A short documentary made by Kiriako Latridis, which focuses on Michael Yang, an amazing young athlete who has won a handful of gold metals and even has broken world records at the Special Olympics.
• “Deeday” (25 minutes)
“Deeday” began as a series of conversations with my daughter, Charlotte, about her brother Jonathan, who has Down syndrome.
 • “Close My Eyes”
(2.5 minutes)
One of Australia’s most celebrated bands, Rudely Interrupted is an independent rock group with five of the six members living with disabilities.
 • “Be Good to Eddie Lee”
(13 minutes)
This film follows the adventures of Eddie Lee, Christi and Jim as they learn the true meaning of friendship and the value that it’s really what’s inside that counts.
 • “King of Camp”
(42 minutes)
A tale about Viro, a self-proclaimed music buff, and how he survived his first day at summer camp. This video features acting and musical performances by people with developmental disabilities.
 
3:30 p.m. program
• “Distinctively”
(4 minutes)
Ella and Eavan, both age 6, are identical twins. Ella has Down syndrome while Eavan does not.
 • “Breadmakers”
(11 min.)
At a unique Edinburgh bakery, a community of workers with learning disabilities makes a variety of organic breads for daily delivery to shops and cafes in the city. The workers interact using individual expressions and sign language.
• “Jerry’s Story”
(5 minutes)
Bicyclist Jerry sustained a traumatic brain injury during a Sunday afternoon bike ride. “I think the helmet saved my life because it was pretty smashed up, but that would have been my skull if it wasn’t the helmet.” See how his life changed.
 • “My Little Brother from the Moon” (6 minutes)
A young girl tries to understand why her little brother, who has autism, is not like the other children and gives her version of the facts. Animated
 • “Bye” (10 minutes)
The film follows Jayden, a 2½ -year-old diagnosed with autism, through his first months of school in the Bronx.
• “Q & A” (4 minutes)
An animation directed by the Rauch Brothers.
In early 2006, 12-year-old Joshua Littman, who has Asperger’s syndrome, interviewed his mother Sarah at StoryCorps. Their one-of-a-kind conversation covered everything from cockroaches to Sarah’s feelings about Joshua as a son.
• “A Short Film About AS” (9 minutes)
“A short film about Asperger Syndrome (AS)” uses animation and audio to enable young people with AS to explain what it is and express how they feel about it.
• “By Any Other Name”
(15 minutes)
One day the monotony of Jared’s life is up-ended when he meets his pretty new co-worker Marissa. Before they know it, they develop a close friendship, one unlike either of them, ever experienced before.
 • Poetic Shorts

6 p.m. program
• “Wretches & Jabberers”
Two men with autism embark on a global quest to change attitudes about disability and intelligence.
 
 

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