MIFF Talks - Disability and Cinema – Beyond Representation Unclassified 15+
Films often still struggle to accurately and compassionately represent disability on screen. Despite progress across recent decades in portraying minority experience, films today often struggle to accurately and compassionately represent disability on screen. Whether used as plot devices, reduced to inspiring stories of overcoming adversity, restricted by damaging ableist stereotypes or left out entirely, disability and mental illness are areas of chronic misrepresentation across global media.
However, on-screen representation is only one side of the picture. Drawing from disability scholars, activists and filmmakers, this panel considers the various ways people with disabilities are marginalised both on-screen and behind the scenes, to discuss the way forward and to celebrate the accomplishments of trailblazers paving the way for future generations.Please note: this event will be streamed live: click the trailer button above or watch on Youtube.
Panellists: Alistair Baldwin, Paul Barakat, Caroline Bowditch, Chris Bunton and Tracey Corbin-Matchett; moderated by Fiona Tuomy
Alistair Baldwin is a writer and comedian based in Naarm/Melbourne. He has written for ABC’s The Weekly, Hard Quiz and Get Krack!n (the latter of which he also stars in as a very tired PA). In 2019 his play Lame was performed at Southbank Theatre as part of Melbourne Theatre Company's First Stage initiative. He is a former Wheeler Centre Hot Desk Fellow, and has had work published by ACMI Ideas, un. Magazine, Art + Australia, Archer, SBS and more.
Paul Barakat is an experienced actor, having trained in the Stellla Adler, Stanislavski and Chekov acting processes under Lynette Sheldon. He has appeared in a range of film, TV and theatre productions including East West 101 and Farscape. Paul has written, produced and directed numerous award-winning short films, including Fragments (2004). He also developed Gish, a multi-platform sci-fi project. At the age of 33, Paul became the youngest serving head of teaching at the International Film School Sydney (now AFTT), the same college he had graduated from as a student. Following his tenure, he decided to focus on developing his career. He and his wife Carla formed the production company Sloane Street Films. Kairos is the company’s first film and Paul’s feature debut as writer/director. Following its world premiere in Rome at the XXII Tertio Millenio Film festival, Kairos was awarded the top prize. Its Australian Premiere is at this year’s MIFF.
Caroline Bowditch returned to Australia in July 2018, after 16 years living and working in the UK, to take up the role as Chief Executive Officer at Arts Access Victoria. She is best known as a performer, maker, teacher, speaker and mosquito buzzing in the ears of the arts industry in the UK and further afield. She held the role as Scottish Dance Theatre’s Dance Agent for Change (2008–2012) and was awarded an unlimited commission to create Leaving Limbo Landing (2012) for the Cultural Olympiad. In 2014, Caroline created Falling in Love with Frida, which was awarded a prestigious Herald Angel award and, in 2016, she collaborated with Laura Hook to create two works for young audiences, The Adventures of Snigel (3–8 years) and Snigel and Friends (under 1s). Caroline has been an Associate Artist with Paragon Music (Glasgow), Dance4 (Nottingham) and Imaginate (Scotland) and was Visiting Professor at Coventry University. She has been a regular consultant on accessibility and inclusivity to Skånes Dansteater, Sweden, and British Council. Furthermore, Caroline has led international residencies in Italy, Switzerland and Germany, and is regularly invited to mentor local, national and international artists at all levels of their artistic development.
Chris Bunton (picture, in Kairos) is an actor, gymnast and dancer who just happens to have Down Syndrome. He has acted in three feature films – Abe Forsyth’s Down Under (MIFF 2016) and Little Monsters (MIFF 2019), and more recently in Paul Barakat’s Kairos (MIFF 2019). His TV credits include Doctor Doctor and The Other Guy, and he also appeared as himself on Attitude (NZ TV), You Can’t Ask That (ABC) and The Sunday Project (TEN). Chris’s performance development started with seven years at NIDA Drama Classes for People with a Disability. From there, Chris graduated to the Ruckus Ensemble, with whom he spent six years. He branched out into contemporary dance with Philip Channels and he is now a regular with Murmuration and the Right Foot Project. Chris is also a gymnast. He is currently the national champion in Special Olympics for Mens Artistic Gymnastics and has represented Australia three times – at Shanghai 2007, Athens 2011 and Florence 2016. Chris is also a qualified gymnastics coach and is currently studying Film at AFTRS with Bus Stop Films. Chris works at Special Olympics Australia as a communications assistant and YMCA Penrith as a gymnastics coach.Tracey Corbin-Matchett is an inclusion and diversity champion, making ground breaking change in the film industry through her role new role as CEO of pioneering not-for-profit organisation Bus Stop Films, where she is leveraging her strong industry connections to use filmmaking and the film industry to raise the profile of people with disability on both sides of the camera. With a career spanning diverse sectors, Tracey has led many projects seeking greater inclusion and diversity in the screen industry, most recently managing Women in Film and TV’s Raising Films Australia strategy, and previously in working with Screen NSW on strategic initiatives including Screenability, to foster employment opportunities for people with disability in the screen sector, and She Shoots, opening pathways for women in camera and sound roles. Tracey is hard of hearing and a full-time working mum of three busy kids. In her spare time, she is a Director of Deaf Sports Australia.
Fiona Tuomy is an inclusive storytelling specialist. An award-winning screenwriter, director, producer and developer working across storytelling genres and platforms, she's a graduate of AFTRS, where she made a series of celebrated short films with fellow students including Samantha Lang, Tony McNamara and Warwick Thornton. A creative collaborator with the late Brad McGann, Fiona worked closely with him on the development of his internationally award-winning feature film In My Father’s Den. Fiona is writer and director of the acclaimed ABC TV documentary Helen Garner’s Monkey Grip and to research this project received a Creative Fellowship from State Library Victoria. As well as being a creative practitioner, Fiona has worked in leadership and education roles across the screen, arts, literary and disability sectors. In 2012 Fiona was employed by Arts Access Victoria to establish the landmark Write-ability – writers with disability program in partnership with Writers Victoria. Over a five-year period, Fiona’s ongoing work on this program has established her as a leader in the design and delivery of disability-led arts programs. Currently Fiona is artistic director of The Other Film Festival – Australia’s first international disability film festival. Buoyed by her participation in Screen Australia’s Seeing Ourselves: Developing the Developer initiative, Fiona is developing a bold slate of disability-led screen projects. In May 2019 Fiona was appointed to a new Advisory Group, which will help shape the Victorian Government’s strategy and investment in the creative industries from 2020.
Co-presented with Screening Ideas, The Other Film Festival and and 5stream