The best prize out of the whole NYFF Award ceremony was chatting to professional filmmakers and when I asked about female filmmakers that would inspire me I was being given the name of a brilliant documentary filmmaker…Lucy Walker. Her film Blindsight is a mindblowing film about 6 blind, tibetan teenagers who set out to climb up a 23,000 ft mountain on the north side of Mount Everest, led by their blind teacher and adventurer Sabriye Tenberken and the first blind person to climb Mount Everest, Erik Weihenmayer. This outline does not even scrape the surface of what this film is really about.
You have to watch this film. It is a film of great depth and emotion. The gems in the film are not about reaching the top of the mountain, but the journey getting there, the constant decisions that had to be made such as when they progressed into higher altitudes such as, should the kids suffering from not enough oxygen go back and the others continue, or should everyone stop and go down as a team? The film is rich in unexpected subtexts, such as how blind people are treated in Tibet, the background stories of the climbers, different personal and cultural views, how we make decisions and the impact they have…I could not turn away from this film, it was fast moving and took me through so many thoughts and emotions. The camerawork was stunning, atmosphere and emotions were dynamically captured and filmed. One of the most interesting aspects of this film was the contrast between the western competitiveness and the eastern approach to the prize being the journey, not the destination. All of the individuals in the film have gone on to do amazing things with their lives, this film really is the most uplifting and inspiring film ever. A film that truly has made a big difference in the world for the better.
Lucy Walker’s latest film The Crash Reel is a documentary about snowboarding champion Kevin Pearce and his snowboarding career, before and after his tragic accident…And guess what, his brother also has Down’s syndrome and features in the film. The film will be released on DVD in the UK on December 17th. I read a fantastic article by the Independent about the film which really made me see what an excellent documentary I think it’s going to be.
It’s amazing to find another documentary maker with the same thoughts and ideas as me, and this quote from Lucy is just a perfect description of documentary filmmaking today and how I love making films, this is the way I piece together the “My Little Sister (who happens to have Down’s syndrome) series.
“We live in a world where so much video is being created and I think this is the first of a new kind of documentary, where you can seamlessly piece together footage to tell incredibly powerful stories.” – Lucy Walker
For some of you readers who might not know how my ‘My Little Sister (who happens to have Down’s syndrome) film project started, you can read all about it as I was invited to write a guest blog post on Netbuddy – which is the great disability tip sharing website where it all started when I was 8 years old… Read my blogpost on Netbuddy here and check out their great resource of information and advice.
Netbuddy also sent me a congratulations star biscuit, which was really sweet of them!
And I was also a little surprised to receive a letter from the house of commons, which turned out to be a congrats card from our local MP, I was pleased to see that on the back of the card it said it wasn’t paid for using tax payer’s money!
If you also happen to be in Toronto, Canada this Saturday I highly recommend going along to the premier of I Am Not Invisible by Erin Corrado, starring her friend who has Down’s syndrome. You can view the trailer here.
Gold Arts Award
This week I was interviewed by Arts Award Voice and featured in their online magazine for achieving my Gold Arts Award in Film, this is a qualification awarded by Trinity College London and involves an extensive mix of practical skill development in Arts practice and Arts leadership as well as research, work placements, attending arts events and writing opinion pieces-just everything I love doing and do anyway! The Arts Award gives a helpful structure and motivating deadlines! It is a great Arts qualification for someone who is home educated like me. Read why and what I did in my interview here
My upcoming projects
Watching ‘Blindsight’ and researching Lucy Walker and Molly Dineen (another great documentary filmmaker whose name I was given at the NYFF awards) was incredibly inspiring. I have bought the BFI set of Molly Dineen’s documentaries – I just watched “Heart of the Angel” which she started filming down in the tube station, then a different film emerged from what she initially thought it would be about. It really captured a whole world that exists down there away from daylight. I love making films that over time just go deeper into what isn’t noticed on the surface too. It’s inspiring to watch her films and hear her speak about her filmmaking process as I can relate to it. I have had a brilliant idea for a documentary (which will remain secret for now) and I am really excited about it! I am also working on the next My Little Sister (who happens to have Down’s syndrome) in January. I have also learnt to play a piece on the piano, which when I perfect I will make a short film/music video to! I am very excited about that. But for now, here is my latest music video!