“Crip Camp” directors Nicole Newnham and James Lebrecht Lebrecht came very close to reenacting scenes from Camp Jened when he remembered a hippie group visiting and filming camp during a crab outbreak when he was there as a camper. After months of searching, “Jim remembered it was something for people. Eventually I found a small ad on the back of an old video magazine from the 1970s that said, “Crab outbreak at Camp Jenned for the disabled by folk video theater,” “Newnham Gold Derby tells our Meet the Experts: Documentary Panel (see “They had six hours of footage that they hadn’t seen since shooting. Jim and I combined that footage with archive footage from the disability rights movement.”
“Crip Camp”, which is currently streamed on Netflix, examines how a summer camp for disabled and handicapped children / young people in the Catskills has affected the lives of the campers who participated. The warehouse operated from 1951 until its closure in 1977. Many of the former camp participants highlighted in the film became activists fighting for equality and access for the disabled. These leaders would continue to be key figures in passing the Rehabilitation Act 1973, enforcing the non-discrimination laws in Section 504 of that law, and the Americans with Disabilities Act 1990.
SEE‘Crip Camp’ Wins Best Feature at IDA Documentary Awards: Oscars Next For That Netflix Heartwarmers?
Despite the passage of landmark laws like the ADA, Lebrecht tells us that basic enforcement of this law is still a major problem. For example, when a complaint is filed, companies have six months to correct it. “What other civil rights law has a statement that says you have six months to correct things? These rules and laws have been on the books for over 30 years. “He also points out that attacks on Medicare and Medicaid are attacks on programs that allow us to live outside of our bedrooms. People try to make decisions based on quality of life and the final people to make that decision are doctors who often consider people with disabilities to be less and do not see the beautiful life we have. “
Another highlight of the film is the chronicle of the sit-in on a government building in San Francisco and how other civil rights groups, including the Black Panthers and the gay liberation movement, helped activists to keep their protest going as long as possible. “As we did the research and spoke to people who had crossed that identity group, we began to understand the depth of that story,” says Newnham. Adding this element to the movie gave it a superhero flavor that made the crowd go nuts. “Before the pandemic, we had a few opportunities to show the film in big theaters and people jumped up and applauded when these different groups came in.”
PREDICTION the Oscar nominations 2021 until March 15
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