‘Crip Camp’ Topic Judy Heumann Hails Incapacity Rights Documentary – Deadline

When Judy Heumann – one of the main subjects of the Oscar-nominated documentary Crip Camp – was five years old in the early 1950s, her mother tried to enroll her for kindergarten in New York City. The staff took one look at Judy, who was using a wheelchair because of polio, and denied her.

“The headmaster said I was very dangerous, I couldn’t go to school,” remembers Heumann. “He said to my family, ‘Don’t worry, the school board will send a teacher to your home. ‘Well they did. Not in kindergarten, but for the first, second, third and half of the fourth grade, a total of two and a half hours per week. It was a very clear message that their expectations of me were not what my parents had of me. “

Crip Camp directors at the summer camp that changed lives and shaped the course of US history – Contenders Documentary

Disability rights activist Judy Heumann

Heumann contracted polio before he was two years old. At the time, a doctor told her parents to take her to an asylum.

“In many ways, institutionalization was the status quo in 1949,” writes Heumann in her book “Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memory of an Activist for the Rights of the Disabled”. “Children with disabilities were seen as an economic and social emergency. You have brought stigma to the family. “

The times have changed. But they may not have changed without the continued efforts of Heumann and activists like you to work to change the perception of people with disabilities and pass laws to protect the rights of people with disabilities.

Crip Camp, directed by Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht, traces the emergence of the disability rights movement in the 1970s. The Netflix film documents how a summer camp for disabled youth in New York State played a crucial role in the development of a number of future leaders of the movement, including Heumann. Camp Jened’s radical philosophy was that disabled children should be heard, valued, and not marginalized in society.

Campers and counselors at the 'Crip Camp' in 1971

Jened camp in 1971

“To me, this documentary is vital because it shows how we really learned how to win our voices,” notes Heumann, a Jened consultant in the early 1970s. “This is what a lot of the early footage of the movie is about – people are empowered and they really break out of their shell.”

Heumann helped advance the emerging disability rights movement by co-founding the Disabled in Action organization. The group held protests on the streets of New York in 1972 against President Nixon’s refusal to sign the Rehabilitation Act, a law that provides shelter and shelter for people with disabilities. Nixon eventually gave in and signed the legislation. Later in the decade, Heumann and other activists launched a major protest after the Carter administration refused to enforce provisions of the Rehabilitation Act.

“We really learned how to express ourselves, to express ourselves, to articulate what needs to be changed and to really fight for these changes,” Heumann told Deadline. “We still do that today.”

Crip Camp

Heumann and other activists helped pass the Disability Act in 1990. However, she wants the law to keep up with a changing society.

“As an example,” she emphasizes, “websites need to be accessible to the blind, visually impaired, deaf and others. We have to worry about that. We have to worry about companies that feel they don’t have to. “

During her career, Heumann worked for the World Bank and in the Clinton administration. President Obama appointed her to a position in the State Department as Special Advisor on International Disability Rights (a post that was eliminated after President Trump took office).

In a sense, Crip Camp unites Heumann with the Obamas. The former President and First Lady are executive producers of the documentary, which was produced through their production company, Higher Ground.

“I think it was a message in many ways that they were produced by management,” comments Heumann. “It meant that they felt that this was a story that needed to be told. That made it even more special to me – because they were so central to the history of the United States. “

'Crip Camp' directors Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht at the Sundance Film Festival

The Crip Camp directors Nicole Newnham (ctr) and Jim LeBrecht (R) at the Sundance Film Festival 2020
Courtesy Matthew Carey

The Obamas executive produced American Factory, which won an Oscar for best documentary last year. After Crip Camp was announced as an Oscar nominee, Heumann said she immediately phoned directors Newnham and LeBrecht.

“Everyone was totally overwhelmed and so happy,” said Heumann. “And they deserve the award for this film. It’s really historic. “

Heumann plans to travel to Los Angeles on April 25th to attend the Academy Awards.

“I’m very excited,” she admits. “If this film wins, it means so much to the disabled community … When you get as far as it is, you really make a statement in and of yourself.”

She adds: “All nominated, they are all excellent films, otherwise they would not have been nominated. But for me this film is of course above the others because it tells a story that needs to be told, and it is beautifully told and told with force. “

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