Last night I went to a free film screening event organised by MARUAH (http://maruah.org/meandmyfriend/). In tandem with the 2009 International Day of Persons with disabilities and Human Rights Day, the group put together a series of events to bring awareness to rights for people with disabilities. This particular invite came by way of Bee Thiam (Asian Film Archive), whose orgranisation curated the 3 films shown at Golden Village Grand, Great World City.
Of the 3 shorts shown, I like the Filipino director Khavn de la Cruz’s Lata At Tsinelas best. It was clever, well-shot and very powerful. Local filmmakers Derrick Lui and Lee Chee Tian’s film was a very inspiring and moving story about a young (and quite good-looking) Singaporean man who overcame a paralyzing accident with the love and care of people around him. While the filmmakers had the advantage of a strong narrative, I felt they did not fully explore the possibilities but instead used very typically local TV-esque presentations. It was like watching Crimewatch or some other CNA feature.
About 70 people were in the audience (I’m guessing), and there were also some with special needs in attendance. Amongst the things I heard, I learnt that there are now over 35 SBS bus routes with Wheelchair Accessible Buses! And apparently, there’s an iPhone app that tells you if one is coming along. There was also a lively chat (yes, I was evesdropping) with tips and tricks on manoeuvring a wheelchair in such a bus. The discussion after the screening however, was at some points cringe-worthy. To hear young people say things like “you may think they are hopeless, but they can be very clever and make something of themselves” is quite irritating. People with physical limitations are not mentally handicapped. They function with difficulties when doing physical chores but they think and feel the same way as you do. Also, an intellectual disability is different from mental illness – they have different problems. I blame our schools for not equipping our supposedly “normal” children with the understanding that people come in all shapes, sizes and capabilities.