Love and Other Disabilities

We speak to inspiring filmmaker Genevieve Clay about shooting the short film Beautiful which celebrates the talents of people with a disability.

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"Many people don't take the romantic relationships people with disabilities have seriously," Aussie filmmaker Genevieve Clay tells FILMINK. "They are in fact valid loving relationships sometimes maintained a lot better than other people - just look at the divorce rate! Why should anyone judge a person's relationship as valid or real if they've got a disability, particularly when that relationship is thriving?"

It was this line of thinking which led Clay to co-write and direct Beautiful, a short film which explores the relationship between Amber and Raphael, two individuals living with a disability, and their journey toward acceptance from their family and wider society.

Beautiful was created through the Different Lens Project, an inclusive filmmaking initiative inspired by Melbourne's The Other Film Festival which presents new cinema by, with and about people with a disability. A selection of six short films from The Other Film Festival will screen alongside Beautiful at the National Film and Sound Archive in celebration of International Day of People with Disability on December 3.

Having shot the Tropfest winning film Be My Brother, a story about a young man with Down Syndrome and Frances and Annie which also challenged social prejudices toward persons with disabilities, Clay was approached to oversee the project. The talented director seized the opportunity to employ some of the strategies she had been developing to aid persons with disabilities in the creative field.

 "We held different workshops for people to learn about filmmaking and acting," Clay explains. "We wrote the script for the chosen actors so the film can be a platform to showcase their strengths and we had a fully inclusive cast and crew at the end of the process. They're strategies I've been working on developing, so that more inclusive films can be made."

An intense but hugely rewarding shoot, Clay was assisted by two aspiring filmmakers. "I had two wonderful director's attachments, Ben Harris and Lucas Li, who I mentored throughout the process with the idea of the next project being left in their hands. We pumped it out in two days!"

Clay knows better than anyone that the film industry is a difficult biz to crack, whether you have a disability or not. "It's hard enough for actors without disabilities to get work let alone if you're an actor who does have a disability. An experience like this is incredibly valuable."

Indeed the experience was a valuable one for people both behind and in front of the camera. "I think that our two leads developed their craft further, and they got an experience and opportunity that they hadn't had before. People who are interested in pursuing a career behind the scenes were also able to experience a pro set, and be mentored by professionals too. It was valuable in networking, experience, skill building and exposure."

While the screening at the National Film and Sound Archive on December 3 has sold out, those wishing to see Beautiful can contact Caro Roach or Genevieve Clay for a copy. The short film will also be put online in the near future. Keep up to date on the Arts ACT website.

 

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