2008 disABILITIES Film Festival Archive


Mozart and the Whale

OCTOBER 17, 2008
7:00 PM – 10:00 PM 


The story of a developing romance between two individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome. Donald (Josh Hartnett) runs an autism support group and Isabelle (Radha Mitchell) is referred to the group by her therapist. When Donald, a taxi driver and numbers whiz, meets Isabelle his routine life is turned upside down as he tries to incorporate her into his world. Inspired by the true story of Jerry and Mary Newport, this dramatic, romantic comedy showcases a unique and challenging relationship. The screenplay is by Academy Award winner Ron Bass and is directed by award-winning director Petter Naess.

Running time: 92 minutes

Rating: PG-13 (language)

Body & Soul: Diana & Kathy

OCTOBER 18, 2008
12:30 PM – 2:30 PM


Body & Soul: Diana & Kathy is a true story about two life-long friends who have made their home in Springfield, Illinois. Diana drives, cooks, shops, and has been Kathy’s personal assistant and friend for the past 35 years. Remarkably, Diana has Down Syndrome, a genetic condition that gives her one extra chromosome and a lower IQ. Kathy on the other hand has a degree in English, but is non-verbal and has cerebral palsy. As part of their ongoing activist efforts to demystify disability, Diana and Kathy invited Director Alice Elliot into their home to create this film.

Running time: 40 minutes.

Rating: Unrated

The Collector of Bedford Street

OCTOBER 18, 2008
3:00 PM – 5:00 PM 


Academy Award nominated short documentary film stars Larry Selman, a community activist and fundraiser who is also developmentally disabled. When Larry’s primary caregiver becomes unable to care for him, his New York City neighborhood community rallies together to protect his independent lifestyle by establishing an adult trust fund on his behalf. Larry continues to raise thousands of dollars for charity every year. Directed by Alice Elliot.

Running Time: 34 minutes.

Rating: Unrated


OCTOBER 17, 2008

John Elder Robison – Author of the New York Times best-seller "Look Me in the Eye," a memoir about growing up and learning about Asperger's Syndrome

John's recollections about discovering at age 40 that he had a form of autism altered Robison’s view of himself, giving him a new confidence and enabling him to find more acceptable ways of coping with other people. He now travels across the country, speaking about his life experiences to various university groups and organizations. He is currently working on Beyond Normal, a sequel to his best-seller which should be published in late 2009.

OCTOBER 18, 2008

Alice Elliott

Alice Elliott is an advocate for disability rights as well as an Academy Award nominated director for the short documentary, The Collector of Bedford Street. Recently she directed and co-produced the award-winning documentary Body & Soul: Diana & Kathy for Public Television broadcast. She is a member of the American Association on Mental Retardation, The Arc of Illinois, The Arc of Westchester, Illinois Coalition for Citizens with Disabilities, and the United Cerebral Palsy Associations.

Diana Braun

Diagnosed with Down Syndrome Diana lived in state-run institutions as a teenager where she vowed to close all of Illinois’ state owned institutions. Since that time Diana joined the disability movement as an activist for independent living. Diana met Kathy at a sheltered workshop in 1970 and signed on as her caregiver and personal assistant. Together they regularly travel as lobbyists for the disability rights movement. She is president of the self-advocacy group, People First, and a member of the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities.

Kathy Conour

Kathy was born with Cerebral Palsy which left her non-verbal. She has a degree in English from Olivet Nazarene College with a minor in business administration. Using an electronic communication device she writes articles for national magazines and is in continual correspondence with various leaders of the disability rights movement. She serves on the board of United Cerebral Palsy of Illinois.

Larry Selman

Larry, the subject of the documentary The Collector of Bedford Street was born April 2, 1942 and grew up in Brooklyn, NY. Larry began fundraising at a young age with his parents and by the time he was 13 he was raising money for such causes as United Cerebral Palsy on his own. After moving to Bedford Street, Larry began raising money for his neighborhood block association and has spent the last 20 years as a community activist and fundraiser.


OCTOBER 17, 2008

Film: Mozart and the Whale

Speaker: John Elder Robison, Author of the New York Times best-seller "Look Me in the Eye" about life with Asperger´s Syndrome

OCTOBER 18, 2008

Film: Body & Soul: Diana & Kathy

Speaker: Diana Braun, Kathy Conour, Alice Elliott

OCTOBER 18, 2008

Film: The collector of Bedford Street

Speaker: Larry Selman, Alice Elliott

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