Los Angeles, May 20 – In the short documentary, My Disability Roadmap, from father-son filmmaking team, 22-year-old disabled filmmaker Samuel Habib and his father Dan Habib, we witness a glimpse of Samuel’s journey to adulthood told through his point of view. Samuel is a college student with cerebral palsy and epilepsy, living in Concord, New Hampshire. Navigating the ableist biases of our society, especially in terms of how people treat him, Samuel decides to meet with some of the most influential disability advocates in America (including Ali Stroker, Bob Williams, Judy Heumann, and more) for advice. What Samuel learns on his journey is that he is not alone; all individuals struggle in our society, regardless of disability. As Samuel says, “Disability is part of the natural diversity of the world…We should not be segregated.” As someone with a physical disability myself, I could not agree more.
Samuel also says, “No one tells you how to be an adult, let alone an adult with a disability,” and I am sure several people can relate, including myself. All of Samuel’s struggles are extremely relatable, but when it comes to disability there is no roadmap for how to maximize opportunities in society, whether it be socially or economically. “Knowledge” is a key theme in the documentary as we follow Samuel learning from his mentors or Samuel educating those around him about his disability.
Samuel is trying to build a roadmap for success on his journey to adulthood by seeking the wisdom of others. His keen thirst for knowledge is a rare and admirable attribute. However, he is isolated or talked down to because of his disability. It shows me that our society has a long way to go in terms of disability knowledge.
What’s interesting is even those championing disability rights treat Samuel like a child, which made me realize that we must continue to learn and educate those around us, and ourselves, about disability. Samuel uses the wisdom of the disability advocates he meets to empower himself. While Samuel’s disability gives him hurdles to navigate, his zest for life takes him on a voyage that few people would brave (regardless of disability). Samuel says meeting with his mentors has made him even more proud of who he is, and proud to be a part of the disabled community.
Today, Samuel is continuing his journey to have a romantic relationship, leave home, go to college, and educate those around him that he is a person like everyone else by trying to live his best life. I don’t know whether Samuel wanted the burden of having to educate those around him about disability, but he takes it with stride. A feature-length version of the short film is set to be released in mid-2023, and I am excited to see where Samuel’s journey of self-discovery takes him and our society next.
About the Author: RespectAbility Entertainment News Media Apprentice Andrew Reid is a DGA Award winning director and 2022 NAACP Image Awards nominee. His award-winning projects have screened at Slamdance, CAA Moebius, Paramount Pictures, HollyShorts, LA Shorts, and more than 50 other film festivals worldwide.