Superfest International Disability Film Festival


Congratulations to this year's award winners!

The following contains a list and descriptions of the award-winners for SUPERFEST XXVII (2007).
To browse through photos from the award-winning films, click here.

Superfest XXVII Award Winners' List

Best of Festival

Excellence Awards

Achievement Awards

Merit Awards

Spirit Award

Pamela K. Walker Award

Emerging Artist Award


Descriptions of Award Winners


The Epidemic
Producer: Niels Frandsen
Director: Niels Frandsen
Contact: [email protected]
Neils Frandsen, producer-director of Best of Festival winner, The Epidemic, contracted polio at the age of one in Denmark's last "great epidemic" in 1952. As the filmmaker decribes it, "I do not remember, but I will never forget." It is this paradox of uncertain clarity that charges each frame of this remarkable work with emotional heft and poignancy. By combing archives and applying them masterfuly, Frandsen achieves a mesmerizing panorama of the artifacts of past epidemics: iron lungs and braces, isolation wards, mass inoculation days, experimental therapies and operations, specialized seaside hospitals for endless periods of rehabilitation. Frandsen artfully interweaves the historic materials with poetry read on the radio on Sunday afternoons, with his family's photographs and recollections, and with images drawn from the main memories of his own recovery period: bending linden trees and sculpted tiles from the ceiling of his local swimming pool. Half-history, half-dream, The Epidemic is a fully realized memoir. Powerful, compelling and utterly enchanting.

No Bigger Than a Minute
Producer: Steven Delano
Director: Steven Delano
Contact: [email protected]
Excellence Award winner, No Bigger Than A Minute, also employs a well-chosen selection of historical footage to develop a colorful portrait of how dwarves or people of short stature have been represented on screen since the silent film era. Producer-director Steven Delano's personal journey for connection and identification adds an emotional layer, but he wisely uses it as a unifying thread only, serving up an entertaining and irreverent overview, splicing in cryptic but philosophical commentary by well-known actors, including Peter Dinklage from "The Station Agent" and Meredith Eaton from "Boston Legal," and a short interview with "Short People" composer, Randy Newman. In recognition of his outstanding creativity, Steven Delano's lively look at the imagined lives of Little People, No Bigger Than A Minute, is the recipient of both an Excellence Award and a Spirit Award, which is given to a work of exceptional quality by a filmmaker with a disability.

Outsider: The Life and Art of Judith Scott CC
Producer: Betsy Bayha
Director: Betsy Bayha
Contact: [email protected]
Earning SUPERFEST's second Excellence Award is San Francisco-based filmmaker Betsy Bayha's Outsider: The Life and Art of Judith Scott, a documentary short about a unique local artist. We meet the art first: glorious sculptures of twisted yarn and string, layers of color and texture, haunting shapes--undeniably powerful art by someone with a gift. Then we meet Judith Scott: a woman with Down Syndrome who is deaf and does not speak. It's a huge moment delivered gently, without the weighty brackets of art and disability expert explanation. It's filmmaker Bayha's insistence that we enter Scott's world without expert guidance or judgment that makes this little film so compelling. When we see Scott working with intense concentration on her soaring string and yarn wrapped found-object sculptures or watch her engaging with friends and co-workers or involved in affectionate play with family, we don't need to be told that it is tragic her first 35 years were lost to institutionalization. Ultimately, however, Bayha's Outsider: The Life and Art of Judith Scott is no tragic tale, but a loving tribute to a remarkable, tenacious woman and a celebration of her truly spectacular creations.

Headstrong: Inside the Hidden World of Dyslexia and ADHD CC
Producers: Chloe Slader, Ben Foss, Steve Schecter
Director: Steve Schecter
Contact: [email protected]
Headstrong is an aptly named, well-paced documentary featuring six Americans whose dyslexia or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) have caused major detours in their lives. The message is clear and powerful: if people with these conditions are given timely assessments and the tools of awareness, self-advocacy and contemporary technology, their achievements can be unlimited. Along with his own story, co-producer Ben Foss provides a superb range of portraits, including: a 44 year old single mother in Alabama working her way through a top level university; a heavy-equipment operator who recounts his historic lawsuit proving disability discrimination; and a Northern California teenager struggling with disclosing a disability. Headstrong: Inside the Hidden World of Dyslexia and ADHD is one of the first films to tell such a thorough story of the estimated 20 million Americans with these conditions.

Producer: Katarina Peters
Director: Katarina Peters
Contact: [email protected]
Stroke documents how a sudden cerebral accident changes the life of Boris, a young musician, and his wife, Katrina, the filmmaker. Boris and Katrina are German, but his devastating stroke and subsequent coma take place in New York City while visiting friends. Filming both their New York experiences and several years of recovery in Germany, Katrina Peters offers viewers a rare "before and after" clarity about what Boris is working so hard to reclaim: a high level of musical creativity, and the physical and mental capacities of a young man. Raw and gritty, Stroke shines an unflinching spotlight on the sometimes brutal realities of recreating a relationship when one partner has undergone substantial, but involuntary, changes. Full of surprising moments, complex emotions and uncomfortable truths, Stroke is a profoundly moving love story.

The Rest of My Life: Stories of Trauma Survivors
Producer: Gabriel Ledger, M.D.
Director: Gabriel Ledger, M.D.
Contact: [email protected]
The Rest of My Life: Stories of Trauma Survivors is a gripping documentary short that examines the lives of a man and woman who rebounded from life-threatening trauma. The man, a Chippewa sculptor, painstakingly relearns his craft after a brutal hate crime; the woman, a yoga teacher undergoes a long recovery from brain surgery after a car crash. Interestingly, producer Gabriel Ledger was their attending emergency room physician who tracked how they were doing three years after treating them. Using in-depth interviews and scenes from their lives, Ledger captures their unrelenting focus on rejoining the world, and gives us a film that honors and celebrates life.

Carmela OC
Producer: Guillermo Lopez Perez
Director: Guillermo Lopez Perez
Contact: [email protected]
Carmela takes us into the polluted urban sprawl that is Mexico City, and introduces us to a polio survivor and her adult son with Down syndrome. Producer-director Guillermo Lopez Perez allows his camera an unvarnished view of their lives: Carmela cleans houses and her son helps her; they live teetering between poverty and low-income, between isolation and family involvement. There are some tender moments, and some amusing ones--they are a gutsy pair who've worked out a way to survive in a seemingly inhospitable environment. Thanks to Perez' unsentimental lens, Carmela is a vibrant, vivid, slice-of-life gem.

Darius Goes West: The Roll of His Life
Producer: Roll With Me Productions
Director: Logan Smalley
Contact: [email protected]
Darius Goes West: The Roll of His Life is a high-spirited, coming of age saga by college student Logan Smalley. Aided by 11 college boys, Darius Weems, a teenager with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, embarks on the cross-country road trip of his life. Determined to experience both the Atlantic and Pacific while he can still enjoy the voyage, Darius leaves his home in the deep South for the first time in a big RV, heading to Hollywood where he and the boys hope to convince MTV to "pimp Darius' ride" - his motorized wheelchair. Along the way with Darius, we see the sights, experience the varied accessibility of America, and revel in the rowdy camaraderie. Darius grows up on this trip, and what a pleasure it is to get to know him.

Seeing Is Believing OC
Producer: Tofik Shakhverdiev
Director: Tofik Shakhverdiev
Contact: [email protected]
Seeing is Believing is Russian director Tofik Schakhverdiev's upbeat portrait of a Moscow college student whose blindness does not restrict his capacity to make friends, get into contact sports, develop a sense of humor, attract girls or become a computer geek. We get well-chosen glimpses of Moscow, the boy's family life, his mobility skills, his pursuit of a career in information technology and his general ease with life. This is one of the first Russian documentaries to emphasize the practical ways young people with disabilities can invent their own futures.

Mercury Stole My Fire
Producer: Anitra Nelson
Director: Anitra Nelson
Contact: [email protected]
Mercury Stole My Fire is an artistic short in which a woman's long struggle with environmental illness and misdiagnosis is beautifully dramatized using mime performance art and poetic narrative. Producer-director Anitra Nelson uses the brilliantly expressive performances of Penny Baron and Nick Papas to recount how a young woman loses years of health to an undiagnosed reaction to mercury and other toxins in her immediate environment, then after a long-awaited assessment and series of treatments, she slowly recovers. An unusual and captivating film.

Symphony of Silence OC
Producer: Yves J. Ma
Director: William Eaton
Contact: [email protected]
Symphony of Silence is a Canadian documentary about a 14-year-old award-winning Deaf poet working to create an ASL poem that will premiere as a joint performance with a symphony orchestra. Producer-director Yves. J. Ma, cuts back and forth among scenes of the teenager's creative process, her family life, preparation by the 30 piece orchestra, and all the anxieties leading up to a major live performance. A lively and engaging look at one young girl's extraordinary experience.

No Bigger Than a Minute
See "Excellence Award"

Planet of the Blind
Producer: Sven Werner
Director: Sven Werner
Contact: [email protected]
This award was created in 2006 in honor of one of the doyennes of disability arts, Pamela K. Walker, and is bestowed upon an experimental work that expresses Walker's notion of "creativity unbound." This year's recipient is German filmmaker Sven Werner's artistic short, Planet of the Blind, a filmic homage to writer Stephen Kuusisto's beautifully poetic memoir. Werner uses blurred and distorted images to create an experience that simulates the disorientation, beauty and sense of discovery of living with blindness expressed in Kuusisto's best-selling book.

Let Us Spell It Out for You OC
Producer: Joseph Santini
Director: Joseph Santini
Contact: [email protected]
SUPERFEST's Emerging Artist Award is designed to encourage professional development and is given to a talented filmmaker with potential who has not yet received official recognition. This year's recipient is Joseph Santini whose short film, Let Us Spell it Out for You, is a protest in American Sign Language about governmental funding cuts for Deaf theater. In it, impassioned students present a pastiche of folk songs, spirituals and original writing in ASL to record their outrage.

For additional information on the films and producers, please contact us at [email protected].

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