New film challenges assumptions about people with disabilities

The film allows people with disabilities to represent themselves and blows apart conventional assumptions. Image: Sydney Film Festival

Shadow
Directed by Bruce Gladwin
Written by Mark Deans, Bruce Gladwin, Simon Laherty, Sarah Mainwaring, Scott Price, Michael Chan, Sonia Teuben
Starring Mark Deans, Scott Price, Simon Laherty, Sarah Mainwaring, Breanna Deleo, Brian Lipson, Ben Oakes
Showing nationally as part of Sydney Film Festival, Revelation Perth International Film Festival and Darwin Festival

Shadow is a production of Geelong-based Back to Back Theatre, which has presented work produced and performed by people with disabilities for 30 years.

The film is an adaptation of the company’s stage play, The Shadow Whose Prey the Hunter Becomes. The script was workshopped, written and performed by the cast — all but one of whom is a person with a disability — and filmed by people with disabilities.

Shadow allows people with disabilities to represent themselves and blows apart conventional assumptions.

The plot follows a town hall meeting organised and led by three people with disabilities to discuss the prospects of computerised artificial intelligence on the lives of people with disabilities. Does AI have the capacity to liberate or enslave not just people with disabilities but other people as well?

Using Bertold Brecht’s techniques of political theatre, the ensemble combines a history of the oppression of people with disabilities, theoretical debates about the terms “disability” and “neuro-diversity” and the struggle against misogyny.

It is a tour de force of intelligence, creativity and humour, with many unexpected twists and turns.

The people with disabilities speaking up in Shadow are speaking for the liberation of all.

[The trailer for Shadow can be seen here.]