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‘Crip Camp’ Trailer: Sundance Audience Winner Charts History of Disability Rights Movement

The crowdpleaser documentary uncovers a hippie camp for teens with disabilities that led to a powerful grassroots movement.

A still from Crip Camp by Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht, an official selection of the U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Steve Honigsbaum.All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or 'Courtesy of Sundance Institute.' Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

“Crip Camp”


Netflix has released the first official trailer for “Crip Camp,” the new documentary from executive producers Barack and Michelle Obama under their growing production company, “Higher Ground.” The crowdpleaser took home the coveted Audience Award for U.S. Documentary at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. The award is sometimes a bellwether for a film’s Oscar chances, a possibility made more likely with the Obamas onboard, as well as “How to Survive a Plague” producer Howard Gertler shepherding the film.

The official synopsis reads: “In the early 1970s, teenagers with disabilities faced a future shaped by isolation, discrimination, and institutionalization. Camp Jened, a ramshackle camp ‘for the handicapped,’ in the Catskills, exploded those confines. Jened was their freewheeling Utopia, a place with summertime sports, smoking and makeout sessions awaiting everyone, where campers felt fulfilled as human beings. Their bonds endured as they migrated West to Berkeley, California  — a promised land for a growing and diverse disability community — where friends from Camp Jened realized that disruption and Unity might secure life-changing accessibility for millions.”

“Crip Camp” was directed by Emmy winner Nicole Newnham and former camper Jim LeBrecht. The film arrives the same year as the 30th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act, the landmark civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities.

IndieWire’s Eric Kohn wrote in his Sundance review: “The filmmakers avoid taking the sentimental nature of the story for granted. The result is a rousing historical overview, doused in the nostalgia and the intimate experiences of the movement’s fiercest warriors. … ‘Crip Camp’ provides a wondrous time capsule on which the rest of the story turns.”

Priya Swaminathan and Tonia Davis serve as executive producers and co-heads for Higher Ground Productions. The company, founded by the Obamas in 2018, hit the ground running when its first film, Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar’s “American Factory,” took home the Academy Award for Best Documentary this year.

Gertler is also an Oscar nominee, for David France’s “How to Survive a Plague.”

Netflix will release “Crip Camp” March 25. The film will also have an awards-qualifying theatrical run in New York and Los Angeles. Check out the trailer for “Crip Camp” below.

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