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WHEN BILLY BROKE HIS HEAD AND OTHER TALES OF WONDER

USA, 1994 (MIFF 1995, Documentaries)

Director: David E. Simpson, Billy Golfus

When Billy Golfus, Award-winning radio jour­nalist, became brain-damaged as a result of a motor scooter accident ten years ago, he became one of the 43 million Americans with disabilities—the country's largest vocal minority.

When Billy Broke His Head... is a chronical of Gol­fus' induction into activism, in this irreverent first-person road movie, he goes on the road to meet other people with disabilities around the country, and witness first-hand the strength and anger that is forging a new civil rights movement.

The documentary follows its protagonist as he faces the overwhelming difficulties of the loss of motor functions, and sense of 'afterness' in a 'normal' world. Fearing that his employment future may now amount to being a pencil sales­man in a bus station, Billy is inspired to earn a Master Degree. But the degree alone does not solve his financial problems, and he faces the bureaucratic officiousness which doles out the basic pensions to himself and his fellow dis­abled. At length, he and his video instructor secure a contract to make this film and give voice to the problems of his minority group.

Golfus' search for an intelligent, active and dignified life is at the centre of this at times humorous documentary, which seeks to reject the social stigmas that label the disabled as either victims or saints. It confronts many other stereotypical misconceptions about the disabled and. as Billy says, it "...ain't exactly your inspira­tional cripple story." But it is a documentary with attitude, and inspirational because of that.

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