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 XXVIII (2008).

Superfest XXVIII Award Winners' List

Best of Festival

  • Body & Soul: Diana & Kathy [40 min.] Producer: Alice Elliott & Simone Pero, U.S.

Excellence Awards

  • Dragon People [24 min.] Producer: Rosa Rogers, U.K.
  • Including Samuel [58 min.] Producer: Dan Habib, U.S.

Achievement Awards

  • Iron Genrikh [51:41 min.] Producer: Alexey Pogrelnoy, Russia
  • The Miracle [29 min.] Producer: Jeffrey Jon Smith, U.S.
  • Multiple [29 min.] Producer: Lucinda Broadbent, U.K.

Merit Awards

  • The Collector of Bedford Street [34 min.] Producer: Alice Elliott, U.S.
  • Edges of Perception [14 min.] Producer: Eric Kutner, U.S.
  • Phoenix Dance [16:22 min.] Producer: Karina Epperlein, U.S.
  • Pushin' Forward [39 min.] Producer: Izumi Tanaka, U.S.
  • Slide [3:52 min.] Producer: Sharon Katz, Canada

Pamela K. Walker Award

  • Tiresias [8 min.] Producers: Olimpias Disability Culture Productions, U.S.

Outstanding PSA's/Promos

  • PSA's: School Love and Class Photo, Producer: Guzella Nikolaishvili, Russia
  • Sins Invalid: Trailer [3 min.] Producer: Patricia Berne, U.S.


Descriptions of Award Winners


Body & Soul: Diana & Kathy CC, AD
Producer: Alice Elliott & Simone Pero
Director: Alice Elliott
Contact: Alice Elliott [email protected]
Filmmaker Alice Elliott's powerful, yet intimate, documentary about how seasoned disability rights advocates, Diana Braun and Kathy Conour, pool their abilities to keep themselves out of nursing homes and advocate around the country for people in similar circumstances. Devoid of the usual "talking heads" experts and narrative exposition, "Body and Soul" is Elliott's gritty and loving paean to the skills and talents of these canny advocates who know how to stay one step ahead of the bureaucracy and hold on to their home. They know the laws, the rules, where the money is and the power of local and national politics to help them redefine the arguments on their own terms. This searingly honest and profoundly moving film is a vital tool for all who want to make the Supreme Court's Olmstead decision a reality and redirect the automatic flow of dollars from nursing homes to "least restricted environments" in their states.

Dragon People OC
Producer: Rosa Rogers
Director: Rosa Rogers
Contact: Rosa Rogers [email protected]
How are the estimated 20 million deaf children and adults doing in China, as the world's fastest growing economy gradually opens up educational opportunities for all and closes down its Communist-style protected jobs for life? How do deaf Chinese find each other and exchange experiences when only a generation ago they were prohibited from congregating in public? In 2006, a (now defunct) British TV program for deaf youth sent photographer Louise Gibson, 30, who is also deaf, to visit families, schools and factories in urban and rural China to get a glimpse of what's happening. She visits a family who raise pigs to fund their deaf son's school fees, a factory where 500 deaf adults produce perfume, and a weekly social gathering in a Beijing park where 200 deaf people come together. Producer Rosa Rogers, a social issues specialist, makes sure we never lose sight of the larger dynamics driving this rapidly changing country.

Including Samuel CC
Producer: Dan Habib
Director: Dan Habib
Contact: Dan Habib [email protected]
How can you achieve full inclusion for a child with a disability? Journalist turned filmmaker Dan Habib admits that until his son, Samuel, was born with cerebral palsy, that question had never crossed his mind. Together with his wife and older son, Isaiah, he sets out to learn how to make it easier for Sam to join in family activities, school and their community, discovering that inclusion is an ongoing experiment across the fields of special education, education and disability rights. Including Samuel is the first good, in-depth cinematic look at what is working within the relatively new pragmatic applications of the inclusion philosophy. Habib deftly enriches his film's landscape with articulate experts, experienced disability rights proponents, and diverse role models, including one woman who did not benefit from inclusion, without ever losing focus that the heart and soul of this story is the promise and potential of one irrepressible child, Samuel Habib.

Iron Genrikh OC
Producer: Alexey Pogrelnoy
Director: Alexey Pogrelnoy
Contact: Denise Roza [email protected]
Also known as Iron Henry, this contemporary Russian film, directed by Alexey Pogrelnoy, details the struggles and joys of a man without legs surviving the inhospitable environment for people with disabilities in Soviet and now post-Soviet times. Genrikh Ivanovich Sergeev, longtime resident of a village with (apparently) no social services, is proud to explain how his handyman skills, iron constitution and relentless pursuit of even the smallest opportunity have enabled him to rise above his circumstances and those who give up and become "invalids". The texture of Genrikh's life becomes clear as the struggles--depression, alcoholism, despair and abandonment by his wife--are presented in counterpoint with the "blue skies" --his children, musical talents, respect as a local historian and return of his wife.

The Miracle CC
Producers: Jeffrey Jon Smith, James Aull, Jerry Prochazka
Director: Jeffrey Jon Smith
Contact: Jeffrey Jon Smith [email protected]
This is an expanded cinematic version of performance artist Tekki Lomnicki's theatrical piece, Thanksgiving, exploring a mother/daughter relationship over a 27 year arc from the daughter's point of view. What makes it comic, tragic and unique from other dramatizations of intergenerational conflict is that Tekki is a little person and her mother's dream is to take her to Lourdes for a cure. Using a Catholic confessional as the pretext for a recap of the past, we are taken on a journey from the streets of Chicago to the boulevards of Paris and on to the beckoning "Disneyland for Catholics", Lourdes. Along the way, song-filled intervals pay homage to American musicals and classic films. During Lomnicki's lifetime, the U.S. disability paradigm has gradually shifted from "you can be fixed" to "you have the right to be as you are", and that evolution serves as the backdrop for her enchanting tale.

Multiple CC
Producer: Lucinda Broadbent
Directors: Lucinda Broadbent & Alison Peebles
Contact: Nicole Kathleen Johnson [email protected]
Alison Peebles has become well-known to UK television audiences over the last six years as a no-nonsense and unerring Scottish detective. What is less well-known is that in reality, the actress/director is gradually coming to grips with the onset of multiple sclerosis. This engaging, wit-laced documentary of a busy professional following her dreams takes us in front of and behind the camera, as Peebles begins to confront the impact this condition may have on all aspects of her life. The usual parameters of a documentary are tweaked by the inclusion of charming animated sequences that show Peebles' struggle to give up her flashy, fashionable high heels. This absorbing, sometimes sobering, look at becoming disabled in mid-life is leavened by the charm and humor of the protagonist who says she doesn't want to be seen as someone with MS, but as "someone who acts and directs and sometimes falls down."

The Collector of Bedford Street CC, AD
Producer: Alice Elliott
Director: Alice Elliott
Contact: Alice Elliott [email protected]
From the opening scene, we are rooting for, even identifying with 60 year old Larry Selman as he struggles through a humiliating intelligence test, perhaps not sure if we could "define tomorrow" perfectly ourselves. The dilemma is that Larry most emphatically does not want to be labeled "retarded" but if he does too well on the test, he will lose funding that will let him keep his tiny Greenwich Village studio apartment and remain in his neighborhood. Producer/director Alice Elliott keeps us on tenterhooks for the duration of this excellent portrayal of Larry and his dilemmas: Will he make it? Will he find a girlfriend? Will his neighbors pitch in? Is he really letting homeless people sleep in his apartment? You'll enjoy finding out the answers and along the way, will learn about a new model for supported living.

Edges of Perception CC
Producer: Eric Kutner
Director: Eric Kutner
Contact: Nicole K Johnson [email protected]
This fresh, well-made documentary takes us into the 11 year old world of Jessica Perk, where we learn about her aspirations to be a photographer, a gymnast a runner, or President, and witness her struggle through classes to capture everything on the blackboard. Jessica has a rare eye condition, Stargardt's disease, that is gradually erasing her central vision, forcing her to depend on the edges for perception. She insists upon explaining her disability to classmates and teachers, suspecting that they think she is just lazy. Jessica will brook no pity, and it is enthralling to be present for an encounter with one of her heroes, Marla Runyon, a legally blind champion runner. Producer/director Eric Kutner provides glimpses of a supportive family, but unerringly lets Jessica tell her own powerful story.

Phoenix Dance CC
Producer: Karina Epperlein
Director: Karina Epperlein
Contact: Nicole Kathleen Johnson [email protected]
German-American director Karina Epperlein's soaring tribute to renowned dancer Homer Avila, who, after losing a leg and most of a hip to cancer, dedicated himself to relearning all his best moves, and went on to receive great critical acclaim and international recognition. Once a professional dancer, Epperlein was transfixed by the sight of Avila performing a pas de deux on his remaining leg. She determined then and there to make a film celebrating the sublime talent and resilience of this extraordinary dancer. Transcending formula films about transformation, Phoenix Dance keeps the focus on dance, movement, grace, on bodies, perfectly imperfect magnificent form, by showing a unique vision of seven powerful limbs--four of a woman and three of a man--all moving towards an artistic and powerful conclusion.

Pushin' Forward CC
Producer: Izumi Tanaka
Director: Izumi Tanaka
Contact: Izumi Tanaka [email protected]
At 15, James Lilly was shot in the back, a consequence of his involvement with a Latino gang. Unfortunately, this is not a rare occurrence in American cities, where violence is one of the main causes of death and disability among adolescents and young adults, especially males. This documentary by producer/director Izumi Tanaka is unusual, however, for its honest look at the retooling of James' machismo in the aftermath. Now in a wheelchair, James decides he will just have to work that much harder to become a good father, husband, provider and competitor. The film is framed by James' participation in grueling long distance wheelchair racing, a sport or in this case, passion that takes him far from home and helps him redefine winning.


Producer: Sharon Katz
Director: Sharon Katz
Contact: Sharon Katz [email protected]
A delightful short animation from Canada, illustrating from a toddler's point of view how alternately exhilarating and terrifying it can be when your parents start to "let go." The setting is a public playground, centered on a slide; the players are a child using crutches and his parents; and the tension is provided by the universal childhood dance of protection vs. independence. An impressionistic mixture of line drawings, music and narration bring this unique and whimsical work of art to life, only to be filled in by the viewers' imagination.

Dragon People
See "Excellence Award"

Producer: Olimpias Disability Culture Productions
Directors: Petra Kuppers & Sadie Wilcox
This beautifully filmed, celebratory short film combines poetry, dance, text and music into a sensual, compelling elegy to artistry. Directors Petra Kuppers and Sadie Wilcox have brought about a winning collaboration that innovatively merges the talents of performers of diverse ages, ethnicity and body type.

P.S.A's: School Love & Class Photo
Producer: Guzella Nikolaishvili
Director: Gosha Molotsov (School Love), Dmitry Pishchulin (Class Photo)
Contact: Denise Roza [email protected]
These two public service announcements are from Russia, with love. PSA's are still rare on Russian television and these are two examples of how the public is being introduced to the still new concepts of school inclusion.

Sins Invalid: Trailer
Producer: Patricia Berne
Director: Jason Toussaint
Contact: Patricia Berne [email protected]
Sins Invalid: An Unshamed Claim to Beauty in the Face of Invisibility is an annual live theatre event about the intersection of disability and sexuality. This trailer was originally created for promotional purposes and captured the essence of the 2006 performance. Now it is used to bring Sins Invalid to a wider audience.

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