New Documentary on Disability in the Media

Portrayals of disability in film and television are as old as the media themselves, and filmmaker Jenni Gold examines these portrayals in her new documentary CinemAbility. “This film is able to showcase something a lot of people haven’t thought about, which is how the media shapes social perception, and we investigate this important topic in an entertaining way,” says Gold.

Gold’s film explores the evolution of these perceptions through historical clips and commentary by entertainment heavyweights such as Ben Affleck, Jamie Foxx, Marlee Matlin, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy, Geena Davis, Gary Sinise and Geri Jewell. She says the celebrity support is vital because the film’s message won’t reach far if there’s not an entertainment factor.

One of the topics the film explores is nondisabled actors playing disabled characters. Gold, who has spinal muscular atrophy, has mixed feelings about the phenomenon. “What you don’t want to do is restrict art,” she says. “If you could find someone that played Ray Charles better than Jamie Foxx I would be shocked. However, actors with disabilities need to be given the opportunities to try out for those roles, and often they are not.” Gold says this issue and others are brought to the forefront in CinemAbility.

Gold’s film premieres July 26 and will be taken on a 10-city tour this summer. For more information on the film visit www.cinemability.com

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