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Logline: A documentary about an innovative Disability Studies course where engineering students and adults with cerebral palsy learn to communicate, connect and cultivate their abilities by making movies.
“The Ability Exchange” is a documentary film about an innovative Disability Studies course at NYU Polytechnic where engineering students and adults with cerebral palsy team up to make movies. This observational film illustrates the trajectory of personal growth and bonding that these first time filmmakers experience during a journey in which the line between ability and disability gets blurred and definitions of “normalcy” and “inspiration” are challenged. It invites the viewer to reflect on what it takes to understand and appreciate a person, a community, and a culture, and how this exchange of abilities and perspectives empowers lives.
Director/Producer/Cinematographer/Editor: Bing Wang
Music: Jacob Pleakis
About the Film:
As an observer in class, I was immediately taken by how the young technology-driven students endeavored to connect with their consultants who have cerebral palsy. At the same time, the self-advocates came here to initiate communication, to demystify the monolithic image of the disabled with self-deprecating humor and untouched self-esteem. Their interactions were so raw and nuanced that many times I found myself totally immersed in the class dynamic—the laughter, tears, applause, and speechlessness—not of a maudlin romanticism, but of empathy and recognition. That’s why I decided to make a film about this unpredictable and eventful class.
Current Status: We are currently running a fundraising campaign at Kickstarter. The film is in post-production.