Los Angeles, CA, April 21 – The Easterseals Disability Film Challenge is an annual filmmaking competition that aims to uplift disability representation and portrayal in the media. Each year the filmmakers are given a theme to focus on in their projects, and this year’s theme is “superhero.”
RespectAbility 2021 Entertainment Lab Alumna Jennifer Valdes wrote and directed a short film titled, “Invincible” working alongside an inclusive cast and crew comprised of both disabled and nondisabled people. The short film follows a character named Sam who is a wheelchair user, as she is faced with the daunting task of making it onto a wheelchair ramp as she grapples with her inner thoughts.
The film creatively uses the “superhero” concept of this year’s challenge to highlight Sam’s inner voices in a lighthearted and comical fashion through physical and verbal exchanges with sound effects. The internal battle between Sam’s thoughts are represented through satirical superhero tropes of “good” vs. “evil” as represented by Mr. Invisible, the evil supervillain and Mr. Invincible, who is the superhero.
Mr. Invisible can be seen as a representation of the inner critics and doubts that Sam has of herself and whether she is capable of making it to the wheelchair ramp or not, while Mr. Invincible represents Sam’s real inner voice, and the positive thinking and beliefs that Sam has in herself and her capabilities. The frustration can be felt as Sam has to decide which voice in her head to listen to as the superhero and supervillain characters go to war.
This satirical representation of good vs. evil will likely hit home for many folks in the disability community, as being disabled in the US, we are often overlooked by the system. We often question ourselves and the role we play as we try to navigate our life within this system due to the lack of support, resources, and accessibility. As a disabled person herself, Valdes wanted to raise awareness through her team’s film.
“We are passionate about promoting a positive message and creating additional opportunities for disabled creatives in the media field.” Valdes states. “We understand the importance of raising awareness for the disabled community through our filmmaking work.”
We as humans, like Sam, all have these thoughts in our mind. Despite how society makes us feel small, or like we don’t matter at all because of our disability or lack of accessibility, we are capable and can achieve success in many different ways, even if it might look a little different than society has traditionally shown us.
As Sam would say, “We are not invisible, we are invincible.”.
This is a highly recommended film for its relatable theme of navigating one’s inner voice in a fun, yet easy to watch lighthearted portrayal. Check out Invincible, now streaming on Facebook and YouTube.