Dancing Through Adversity
by Francesca Jarvis | FILMINK October 27, 2009 12:57 | Edited October 28, 2009 19:00
Australian documentary, Dance Like Nobody's Watching, catches attention of international film festival circuit.
Australian documentary, Dance Like Nobody's Watching, has been receiving international acclaim on the festival circuit, with a nomination for Best Society Concern Award at the Chinese Gold Panda awards and an invitation to enter the 2010 Sprout Film Festival in New York.
Presented by Paul Matley, an inspiring young man with Down's Syndrome, the film charts his quest to discover what it really means to suffer with a disability in Australian contemporary society. Forcing members of the public and medical professionals, as well as the audience themselves, to confront direct questions about disability, director Elizabeth Collins has produced an unflinching view through the eyes of somebody who knows the reality behind the perception.
At times both emotional and extremely moving, the film is an intimate portrait of Matley, with himself steering the debate and discussions that construct himself as a unique character in an untold story. He interviews his family and asks them how they perceive him: their answers are touching and stained with emotion, and it is through scenes like these that the film's real power is utilised.
By having Matley as the guiding narrator, the interviewer and the film's ultimate subject, Collins has made him paradoxically vulnerable and in a unique position of power. It is by handing over the role of interviewer that she has managed to do something different with a subject matter that is arguably so over done in an increasingly PC contemporary media.
"I am delighted that after the domestic success of the documentary's screening at the Dungog Film Festival that the film is now starting to find an international film festival audience," Collins said. "The ultimate intention of the documentary is to make the audience to begin thinking and talking about Down's Syndrome and disability, and hopefully start to bring about some positive social change."
A tall order, by anybody's standards. But with the nomination at the biannual Gold Panda Awards for Documentary, alongside the invitation to the American festival Sprout, the film is starting to be regarded as an important insight into disability. Dance Like Nobody's Watching was hand-picked from 3,963 entries from 62 countries at the Asian awards, while the New York based event where it will appear next year is designed to bring innovative programming about people with developmental disabilities into public terrain, helping to make Collins' and Matley's dream a reality.