Miss Hokusai (Sarusuberi)

“Miss Hokusai” refers to O-Ei, one of the daughters of famed ukiyo-e artist Tetsuzo Hokusai during Japan’s Edo period and an artist in her own right. Though the movie is primarily about their artistic escapades, one subplot involves the younger blind daughter, O-Nao. The elder Hokusai has essentially abandoned her to a convent out of his fear of illness and disease, but O-Ei visits her regularly to take her out on walks to Ry?goku Bridge. O-Ei often describes the world for O-Nae, relying on her composition skills to provide a complete picture, and bringing O-Nae’s hand to touch various objects so she can have a sensory experience.

In one memorable scene, a village boy realizes that O-Nao cannot see him, and after pondering how to handle the situation, engages her in shaking snow off tree branches. O-Ei keeps a watchful eye on them both, wary of this unknown boy teasing her sister, but ultimately decides not to intervene. O-Nao thoroughly enjoys playing with the boy, but eventually falls (or perhaps passes out) face first into the snow.

O-Nao eventually sickens to the point that O-Ei persuades her father to finally make a visit. Reminded of his love for his daughter, Tetsuzo even paints her a protective Daruma deity. In her final hours, a feverish O-Nao ventures alone from the family home and makes her way through the streets of Edo all the way to her father’s studio. The two aren’t there to witness her arrival, but a strong gust of wind coming from inside the studio implies that she has been taken up by a dragon upon her death.

American Sniper

Based on Chris Kyle’s autobiography of the same name, American Sniper encompasses several depictions of injury and disability sustained during the Iraq war, not the least of which is the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder of Navy SEAL and sniper Chris Kyle himself. Once back stateside, Kyle encountered a former soldier and amputee whose life he had saved, who thanked him but–possibly recognizing some signs of PTSD–strongly urged Kyle to join them down at the VA. After an incident where he nearly kills a dog at a barbecue, Kyle decides to do just that. The VA doctor tells him that there are plenty of men who still need saving right here at home, and introduces Kyle to some of the wounded warriors still in recovery there.

Kyle begins taking the men out shooting “to get their balls back”, and the resulting discussion inevitably turns to how they acquired their injuries. In a memorable scene, one soldier credits his smoking habit with saving his right hand; he had been reaching for a cigarette when the IED hit, just far away enough from the blast that took away his legs and left hand. The soldier, Specialist Bryan Anderson, and his story were the genuine article, urged by star Bradley Cooper to tell his story candidly.

Another soldier Kyle visits is his buddy Ryan “Biggles” Job, wounded and blinded when he was shot in the face. Biggles is depicted as having died on the operating table shortly after his injuries and asking his girlfriend to marry him. In real life, Job was blinded in battle in 2006 when an enemy sniper’s bullet struck his rifle, sending pieces of the shattered weapon through his face. He survived much longer than he does in the movie. He was discharged from the military, got married, attended college, got a job, and climbed Mount Rainier and Mount Hood. Job died in 2009 from complications after going back for more facial reconstructive surgery while his wife was pregnant with their first child.

FLO

Despite blindness, multiple sclerosis, and lung cancer, photographer Flo Fox continues to shoot the streets of New York City. No longer able to hold a camera, she instructs her aides to take photos for her. Be sure to visit her website at http://www.flofox.com/.

Even Dwarfs Started Small (Auch Zwerge Haben Klein Angefangen)

Supposedly Werner Herzog’s Even Dwarfs Started Small is an allegory on the problematic nature of fully liberating the human spirit, but we at Disability Movies think that might too sophisticated an interpretation for a film that should have been titled “Dwarfs Gone Wild”. It’s 96 minutes of vignettes of the worst stereotypes of little people behaving badly at an isolated mental asylum, strung together with little semblance of a plot. They cackle maniacally for no apparent reason, break dishes and ruin perfectly good food, look at naked average-height women in an art book yet can’t figure out how to have sex themselves (what?), torment blind dwarves, make a car drive around in circles, set houseplants afire, and, at the crux, crucify a monkey. Sure, you could read all that as a commentary on the wastefulness and depravity of modern society, but why would you need little people for that?

6 Things I’ve Learned From My Blind Friends Covert Affairs’ Chris Gorham on living life sight unseen

From Rundown USA.com: http://rundown.com/usa/6871-6-things-ive-learned-from-my-blind-friends

6 Things I’ve Learned From My Blind Friends
Covert Affairs’ Chris Gorham on living life sight unseen

We take a lot for granted.

Double IPAs. Incognito NSFW web browsing. Hell, just the ability to see our hoppy beers and all that the web has to offer.

Few sighted people appreciate the gift of sight better than Christopher Gorham, who plays blind CIA agent August “Auggie” Anderson on USA Network’s Covert Affairs, premiering tonight.

After all, any role that requires you to pretend not to see the gorgeous Piper Perabo (who plays his partner Annie) requires iron-clad dedication.

So we asked him for a few lessons he’s learned playing blind. Click through to lay your eyes on the answers.

Blind pianist beats odds to become Taiwan movie star

from Tengri News: Blind pianist beats odds to become Taiwan movie star
Huang Yu-siang was born with a gift and a disability. He has a huge talent for music, but he is blind. His story has become a movie that has captivated audiences in his native Taiwan, AFP reports.

The film, “Touch of the Light”, marks a double triumph for the 25-year-old. First he overcame awe-inspiring odds by becoming a successful pianist in real life. Then he beat the odds once more by playing himself on the big screen.

“I was surprised by the warm reactions at home and abroad. Many people told me they were encouraged by the film to persist in their dreams,” Huang told AFP in an interview.

Huang’s musical gift was discovered at the age of two when he could play on the piano songs he had heard only once. He went on to win many competitions and became the first blind person in Taiwan to obtain a bachelor’s degree in music majoring in piano.

His story was made into a short film in 2008 by Taiwanese director Chang Jung-chi. This attracted the attention of acclaimed Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-wai, who encouraged Chang to build it into a full-length feature.

It has become a top-grossing movie in Taiwan since its September release, winning over fans including President Ma Ying-jeou, who praised its “subtle character portrayals” on his Facebook page.

The film has also been welcomed by civil groups that hope it will sharpen the focus on the plight of the island’s blind.

While attitudes towards those with disabilities have improved in recent years, support groups and charities say Taiwanese society still has some way to go when it comes to equality.

Taiwan prides itself on its facilities for the physically impaired — wheelchair ramps abound in the cities — but the fact remains that blind people face drastically limited opportunities.

“The visually-impaired are a minority among the minorities, as employers are more willing to hire the physically or hearing-impaired,” said Chiang Pei-fen, a spokeswoman for Taiwan Foundation for the Blind.

“The majority of the visually-impaired are still limited to working as masseurs or in tele-marketing, and even though general workplace acceptance is improving, there is still a big gap between the number of job seekers and employers willing to hire them.”

Despite his gift, Huang himself has not avoided discrimination. He said he was mocked by fellow students at school and was rejected by a junior high school music programme because he could not see the scores.

The real shock came when Huang left home to attend university, where he struggled to cope, with some classmates reluctant to accommodate him.

“It was a difficult time adjusting to a new environment but I came to realise that I could not always sit back and wait for other people to come to me. I had to take the initiative to make friends,” he said.

His adjustment process and the friendships he eventually developed form the bulk of the plot in “Touch of the Light”.

The experience has transformed Huang from a “shy, introverted” boy who dared not respond to people greeting him, he said, to a celebrity musician and actor who mingled with fans and travelled abroad to promote his work.

“Acting makes me feel more confident and I have become more outgoing and more active, reaching out to other people,” said Huang, who is now a household name in Taiwan and often approached in the street by fans.

Even though the movie is based on Huang’s experiences, director Chang stressed that it is really about “pursuing dreams and breaking stereotypes.”

“In the movie the character’s friends are not overly protective or treat him like an ‘endangered species’ as I want to break the sentimental pitying or worrying for the blind or other minority groups.”

Huang has been nominated for the Outstanding Taiwanese Filmmaker category that encompassed actors, directors and other aspects of film at this month’s Golden Horse Film awards, regarded as the Chinese-language Academy Awards.

Chang is vying for best new director.

But the jury is still out on whether the film’s success will translate into greater acceptance of the blind into Taiwan society.

“It draws attention to the challenges visually-impaired people face but it remains to be seen how much can be translated into actual support for them,” said Chiang of the Taiwan Foundation for the Blind.

For more information see: http://en.tengrinews.kz/people/Blind-pianist-beats-odds-to-become-Taiwan-movie-star–14703/
Use of the Tengrinews English materials must be accompanied by a hyperlink to en.Tengrinews.kz

Tamil Movie: Vikram’s ‘Thaandavam’ Deals With Human Echolocation

from IBTimes: http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/384666/20120915/tamil-movie-thaandavam-vikram-story-release-vijay.htm
Tamil Movie: Vikram’s ‘Thaandavam’ Deals With Human Echolocation
By Manoj Kumar

The most-anticipated Tamil action thriller movie “Thaandavam” starring Vikram, Anushka Shetty and British beauty Amy Jackson revolves around a blind-man who uses human echolocation technique to seek revenge.

Directed by AL Vijay and produced by UTV production, the film is all scheduled to hit the screens on September 28.

Vikram and Vijay have reunited for “Thaandavam” after delivering blockbuster “Deiva Thirumagal.” In their previous movie outing, they narrated a heart-warming relationship between a father and a daughter, and now they have come up with a revenge story.

Buzz is that Vikram is playing the role of a police officer but doesn’t wear the uniform. His character in the movie is said to be inspired by Daniel Kish, an American-based human echolocation expert.

Daniel Kish has been roped in to the “Thaandavam” project by the filmmakers to assist the protagonist to understand the techniques of echolocation and get into the skin of the character.
In his forthcoming film, Vikram set himself on a revenge quest and fights his enemies despite the fact that he is visually impaired using echolocation method.

Human echolocation is a state of the art, where humans are able to recognize the objects/people in a surrounding and sense their movement towards them to spontaneously respond by actively generating sounds.

Vikram had earlier essayed the role of visually-challenged person in “Kasi” (2001). One of his movies “Kanthaswamy”, (2009) too has a fight sequence, where he took on his foes blindfolded by sensing their foot movements.

Going by the trailer of “Thaandavam”, Vikram figures out his enemies and takes them down by making clicking sounds with his mouth.

“Thaandavam” trailer promises big and assures a sure-treat for the action enthusiasts. The film will also be released in Telugu as “Shiva Thandavam.”

Planet of Snail

from the Tribeca film festival site:
http://www.tribecafilm.com/filmguide/planet_of_snail-film39109.html#.T5ek09mRlJG
Planet of Snail
[2011]

Feature Documentary | 89 min | World Documentary Competition
Synopsis

Deaf and blind, Young-Chan lives in the quiet, isolated world of his small apartment, nursing dreams of someday becoming a successful writer. But when Soon-Ho, an empathetic woman herself compromised by a spinal disability, comes into his life, a unique love story begins. A small and delicate tale, Planet of Snail depicts this inseparable pair in their daily life, infusing beauty and gravity into the minutest moments of their experience: the challenge of changing a light bulb, the thrill of a ride on a sled, the momentousness of a day out in the world alone.

Winner of the top jury prize at the world’s preeminent nonfiction film festival, the International Documentary Festival of Amsterdam, Planet of Snail is a poetic and gently paced study that brings to life the sensual world shared by this special couple. Deftly directed with tenderness and subtlety under the sensitive hand of documentarian Seung-Jun Yi, Planet of Snail is a visually striking, intimate, and experiential journey that proves the greatest beauty can be found in the smallest and most unlikely love stories.
–Cara Cusumano

The Lookout

The Lookout depicts a character, Chris Pratt, dealing with the lingering effects of a traumatic brain injury in the somewhat unlikely context of a heist movie. Though he has physically recovered well, Chris attends Life Skills classes (taught by a wheelchair user) and holds down a job as a janitor on the graveyard shift at a Kansas bank. He still has flashbacks of the fateful night when he crashed his car into a stalled truck on prom night, killing two and leaving his girlfriend an amputee.

Unhappy when he contrasts the life he expected to lead (as a star hockey player in high school) with his current existence, Chris initially tries to work within the options readily available to him, asking to work as a teller in preparation for an executive training program out of his reach and discussing opening a small restaurant with his blind roommate Lewis.

Chris and Lewis have a symbiotic relationship; Chris does the cooking and presumably tasks that require sight, while Lewis prompts Chris and talks him through crises. Though Lewis serves as the somewhat cliched portrayal of the sagacious blind man, he came by his street smarts honestly; he was a biker and tough guy before blinding himself while cooking meth.

Recognizing him as vulnerable, a local crook named Gary begins grooming Chris to become one of the gang, plying him with alcohol and the attentions of an exotic dancer named Luvlee Lemons. In one scene, Gary takes Chris “home” to a new makeshift “family” (most of which are in on the heist), promising him a better life. An elderly person shuffles into the room with a walker and is quickly ushered out again with unkind words, and we quickly get the uncomfortable feeling that perhaps they’re being held captive for their Social Security check.

Lewis recognizes the signs of someone trying to manipulate Chris, but lets him make his own decisions about getting involved. When Chris gets in too deep and endangers Lewis as well, he must fall back on the life skills practices he so abhorred.

If there’s one completely unrealistic element of The Lookout (caution: here be spoilers) it’s the glib way his role in the heist was overlooked by the police and court system. In real life, mentally impaired people are rarely given any passes for criminal behavior, even when gullibility is part of their diagnosis. In the United States, it’s quite common for people with intellectual disabilities and low IQ to be executed for crimes they were talked into.

Judi Dench Going Blind but Says She Won’t Retire

Oscar-winning actress Judi Dench has no plans to retire despite revealing she is losing her eyesight to a condition called macular degeneration.

The 77-year-old told the U.K.’s Daily Mirror that “as long as there is a possibility of working I’m not going to retire because if I retire nothing will work any more and it’s hard enough as it is,” she said.

She is currently filming the seventh Bond movie, “Skyfall”, in London.

She said she now makes out faces only if the person stands right in front of her.

“The most distressing thing is in a restaurant in the evening I can’t see the person I’m having dinner with,” she said. “…I know there might be something going on but sometimes I can’t see it and that infuriates me as I think I’m really missing out on something.”

She also needs an assistance when reading scripts in order to memorize her lines.

“I can’t read scripts anymore because of the trouble with my eyes,” Dench was quoted as saying. “Somebody comes in and reads them to me, like telling me a story. It’s usually my daughter or my agent or a friend and actually I like that, because I sit there and imagine the story in my mind.”

Code of the Freaks

Fans of Salome Chasnoff’s previously linked Hollywood Images of Disability (since disappeared) can breathe a little easier now; it hasn’t gone away for good, it’s just being reworked into a full length documentary titled Code of the Freaks.

C4 lines up Paralympic doc series in UK

From Realscreen:

UK terrestrial Channel 4 has commissioned a 10-part documentary series following the lives of a range of different Paralympians, ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games which are being held in London next year.

Best of British will focus on Paralympic athletes from a range of different sports, including racing, sitting volleyball, swimming, shot putting, wheelchair rugby, Cerebral Palsy football, para equestrian, tennis and blind football.

The series promises to reveal “the brutal training regimes and the fierce rivalries as they compete for a place in Paralympics GB.”

The series will premiere later this year, and is produced by Two Four. It was commissioned by C4?s commissioning editor for documentaries Mark Raphael.

Read more: http://realscreen.com/2011/08/30/c4-lines-up-paralympic-doc-series/#ixzz1WsoYr3Ht