People’s Champion: Behind the Battle

I missed it when it was making the rounds, but apparently way back in 2003 the very amateur video of a high school rap battle involving a student with disabilities went viral and brought recognition to one Eli Porter. Eli had a rough start and made a few mistakes during the competition, but the originality of his rhymes won him the support of most viewers. Years later, the above mini-documentary tracked down the original participants in “Iron Mic: Eli Porter vs. Envy” to make sense of the stunning reversal.

Below, the original video that started it all:


In Uncle, Adam Elliott’s first short film, an unknown narrator reminisces about his strange uncle and the rumblings from his colostomy bag. Loosely based on a compilation of Elliott’s experiences with eight of his uncles, the short film has a brief depiction of a lonely, aging eccentric who has a breakdown while grieving, and the ensuing realities of the mental health care system.

The anonymous narrator says “He was never the same after that, and it wasn’t long before they took him away. When my cousin had found him rolling on the floor, both legs in one pajama trouser, they moved him to the Ashburn Gentleman’s Hospice.” The narrator brings him a flask of whiskey to hide under his pillow, and finds him attaching his false teeth to his pajamas with a piece of string to keep the other patients from stealing them.

Out Of Sight

Due to the fact that this particular cinematic work has very limited dialogue and relies very much on visual spectacle, I will endeavor to give a through description of the action therein for blind readers of Disability Movies.

This animated film involving a pre-teen girl and her dog is short and sweet, and features a strong fantasy element. The style of this production is similar to “anime” or Japanese-style animation in which “cute” characters such as children or animals have very large, expressive eyes, and a lot of visual detail is included in settings and scenes, with a fine and consistent line used to draw both scenery and characters.  Soft colors predominate, though this film also uses a lot of primary colors on motor vehicles and fantasy sequences.  Unlike in Western cartoons, settings are often used to evoke a mood, give clues as to the climate, etc.

The short film opens with a brief title sequence. Dog paw prints appear one by one in a straight line on a blank background, then the accompanying dog is drawn and colored in. Next the lower half of a girl is drawn in beside the dog, and the two walk away with the trouser legs of an adult male following behind as the rest of the world gets filled in with color. A fence bears the title “Out of Sight” in an irregular blue font with a handdrawn look.

The story begins with a girl walking her dog down the street on a fine sunny day. Everything is going smoothly until a man (who is not clearly seen) suddenly steals her purse, jostling her shoulder.  The dog begins barking and straining at the leash; the girl tries to rein him in, but instead gets pulled along, wailing, as he chases after the thief.  The dog runs through a small hole in a fence while the girl runs smack into it. She stands there for a moment, stunned, then bangs on the fence and calls “Coco!”.

A subtle puff of wind from the hole blows at the edge of her skirt, alerting her to its presence.  She bends down to inspect the edges of the hole with her hands.

She crawls through the hole into utter darkness, and calls and claps for Coco again. Shuffling forward, she steps on a twig. The twig disappears when she moves her shoe off of it, so she bends down to pick it up. As she feels along its length with her hands the twig grows in size and definition.

Drips of water in the distance briefly illuminate puddles of light, and the girl moves towards the sound, reaching out with the twig. The twig strikes a bar of metal, and a windowbox filled with flowers appears surrounded by a metal grate. The girl gasps and withdraws the twig, which has turned into a magic wand. In the darkness, the girl perceives with her hands that the little split branch on the end of the twig has become a 5-pointed star with rounded corners. 

She begins waving the wand around herself, and her street clothes of straw hat and sky-blue dress are transformed into a conical “witches’ hat” and wizard’s robe, which are initially white, but quickly turn into dull purple. 

Her dog barks in the distance, and she turns to follow the sound. She follows a wall with her hands (which is drawn in bit by bit each time she touches it) and walks towards a bright light. She walks faster and with more confidence until she runs smack into a tree.

The girl calls for Coco again, walking around the tree and reaching out with the wand. The star strikes another bar of metal with a musical note, and the girl runs her magic wand back and forth along a series of metal bars which appear as she touches them. She begins to run alongside the metal fence, playing it like a xylophone until the fence turns into a brick wall.

Further tapping with the wand reveals a glass pane, which she presses her nose up against. Loaves of fresh bread and other tempting bakery items pop into existence, and fall into place on display shelves. A door appears on the left just as the sound of creaking hinges is heard, and a woman exits the bakery carrying a bag of fresh bread.

The girl resumes walking down the street calling for Coco, tapping with her wand as another building appears. A lady trailing flowers passes her, and the girl inhales her perfume just as an elderly gentleman smoking a stinky pipe surrounds her with a cloud of smoke. She follows the gentleman to an alleyway, where a ball of fur rolls around a garbage can lid. The ball of fur jumps down and rolls around on the ground until the girl sits down, then rolls towards her. It turns into a cat when it reaches her, and walks around her, rubbing against the girl to her delight.

Coco barks in the distance, scaring the cat away. The girl jumps to her feet and walks towards him with confidence. Buildings spring up as she passes them and taps them with her wand.
We see cars with fins like fish swimming in the street, and canals serving as traffic lanes.  A rumbling noise above makes her look up, and we see a giant blue whale airship with many pairs of fin-like oars floating in the sky.

The girl cups her hands behind her ears and stops to listen to the world around her in amazement as the wind blows through her hair. Just then, Coco runs up to her, bearing her purse in his mouth. She throws the wand away in surprise, and as it clatters to the ground it turns back into a twig while the world loses some of its color and fantasy aspect.

The girl bends down to hug Coco, and is surprised to feel the purse in his mouth. The viewer realizes, if they haven’t already guessed, that the little girl is blind as she perceives the purse with her hands. She puts the purse back in its rightful place on her shoulder, and Coco picks up the end of his leash in his mouth and puts it into her hand. They walk home together as the scene pans upwards, showing an airplane making contrails in the sky.

Altogether, this short film was a beautiful way to depict the way this young girl perceives the world. Many viewers expressed surprise and delight in the YouTube comment thread, saying they hadn’t realized until the end that the girl was blind.

The ending credits, in which the names of those responsible for the production appear in ideographic characters, show a still picture of the dog having surprised the robber by a tree, with the robber fleeing, having dropped the purse on the ground.

Harvie Krumpet

 The odd biography of a man who has Tourette’s Syndrome and chronic bad luck.  After a childhood tragedy, Harvie Krumpet emigrates to Australia where he has a succession of menial jobs and misadventures, leaving him with a steel plate in his skull that becomes a magnet.