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Disability Pride Movie Recommendations

July is Disability Pride Month. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) legislation was a civil rights law that passed in 1990 and prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, such as jobs, schools, and transportation. Denver has a long history of disability rights activism, including the ADAPT movement which protested wheelchair inaccessibility on public buses in Denver beginning in 1978. This month, we celebrate all people with disabilities for who they are! The movies chosen for this list help us to define the word "disability" as a natural and beautiful part of human diversity.

2e: Twice Exceptional examines the concept of “twice exceptionality” – gifted or highly gifted children with learning disabilities and/or differences. Some have trouble interpreting social cues and processing visual and auditory information. Others have difficulty with time management and organization; they may finish their homework but routinely forget to turn it in. Some have been labeled as “underachievers” and “lazy”, accused of just not trying hard enough.. Yet they can retain huge volumes of arcane information in subjects that interest them, solve complex mathematical problems or master an unfamiliar musical instrument with ease. They have vexed their parents and are often considered “at risk” by traditional school systems. 

A coming of age story focused on Terrence (aka T-Man), a 26-year-old Black man with high functioning autism who lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. Curious and earnest, but living with the realities of existing on the spectrum, he has lived with his mother his whole life. He now feels ready to take the big step towards an independent life, including holding down a job and renting his own apartment, despite the many obstacles the world presents for autistic adults. When he is chosen by AvidXchange, a financial technology firm, to be part of a pilot program hiring people on the autism spectrum, the new income gives him the footing needed to seek independence. 

In 2009 director Garrett Zevgetis googled the word "Beauty." He had been working on a number of darker-themed documentaries and was determined to find an uplifting story for a future project. The search returned a poignant Helen Keller quote that led Garrett to Perkins School for the Blind outside Boston, a renowned institution where a feature documentary had never before been made. He began volunteering at Perkins. On the last day of his scheduled term, a bubbly student introduced herself - Michelle had found him. BEST AND MOST BEAUTIFUL THINGS is a celebration of outcasts everywhere, following a precocious young blind woman who disappears into quirky obsessions and isolation.

After years in and out of mental institutions, Genesis is released into the care of his older brother Ariki, a street gang leader. When he volunteers to train a group of disadvantaged Maori children for the upcoming National Chess Championships, it puts him at odds with his brother over Ariki's son Mana, whose interest in the game threatens the teen's imminent initiation into his father's violent gang. Despite all odds, Gen's positivity always leads him to search for light, even when the world seems at its darkest.

A triumphant film that traces the origins of the world-wide disability rights movement. It tells the stories of the individuals who bravely put their lives on the line to create a better world where everyone is valued and can participate. Featuring interviews and rarely seen archival footage, the film reveals how these activists fought to live outside of institutions, challenged the stigmas and negative image of disability portrayed by the media, demanded access to public transportation, and battled to reframe disability rights as a social responsibility relevant to us all.

Medical transport driver Vic is late, but it's not his fault. Roads are closed for a protest, and no one else can shuttle his Russian grandfather and emigre friends to a funeral. The new route uproots his scheduled clients, particularly Tracy, a vibrant young woman with ALS. As the day goes from hectic to off-the-rails, their collective ride becomes a hilarious, compassionate, and intersectional portrait of American dreams.

Hiccup is a Viking teenager who aspires to hunt dragons, but doesn't exactly fit in with his tribe's longstanding tradition of heroic dragon slayers. His world gets turned upside down when he encounters a dragon that challenges him and his fellow Vikings to see the world from an entirely different point of view.

While Astrid, Snotlout and the rest of the gang are challenging each other to dragon races, Hiccup and Toothless journey through the skies, charting unmapped territories and exploring new worlds. When one of their adventures leads to the discovery of a secret ice cave that is home to hundreds of new wild dragons and the mysterious Dragon Rider, the two friends find themselves at the center of a battle to protect the peace.

Before his son Samuel was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, photojournalist Dan Habib rarely thought about the inclusion of people with disabilities. Now he thinks about inclusion every day. Shot and produced over four years, Habib's award-winning documentary film, INCLUDING SAMUEL, chronicles the Habib family's efforts to include Samuel in every facet of their lives. The film honestly portrays his family's hopes and struggles, as well as the experiences of four other individuals with disabilities and their families. INCLUDING SAMUEL is a highly personal, passionately photographed film that captures the cultural and systemic barriers to inclusion.

Invitation to Dance is an eye-opening insider's account of disability in 21st century America. Simi Linton's story forms the narrative backbone of the documentary. The film traces both her personal growth as a disabled woman, and the larger historically significant developments around her over the past 40 years. Simi serves as navigator and tour guide to a world largely unknown, generally isolated, and commonly dismissed. In 1971, Simi Linton was injured while hitchhiking to Washington to protest the war in Vietnam. Suddenly a young disabled college student, she confronted insidious forms of discrimination she couldn't have imagined before. 

In this wildly original action-comedy, two teenaged boys living with disabilities find escape from their humdrum lives when they're enlisted by a gruff ex-con to be his accomplices... as wheelchair hit men. Thrust into a surreal world of gangsters and guns, the partnership soon blossoms into friendship as their mentor reveals a soft heart beneath his tough exterior and the boys help him come to terms with his own disability. KILLS ON WHEELS features stellar cinematography, a mix of live action and comic book-style animation, and a wickedly dark sense of humor. It deftly blends genres, confronting issues of invisibility, prejudice, and loneliness as it boldly flouts all stereotypes and expectations. 

Quad rugby as played by the US team, between 2002 games in Sweden and the 2004 Paralympics in Athens. Young men, most with spinal injuries, play this rough and tumble sport in special chairs, seated gladiators. We get to know several and their families. They talk frankly about their injuries, feelings in public, sex lives, competitiveness, and love of the game. There's also an angry former team member gone north to coach the Canadian team, tough on everyone, including his viola-playing son. We meet a recently injured man, in rehab, at times close to despair, finding possible joy in quad rugby. After Athens, the team meets young men injured in war: the future stars of Team USA.

An adventure story set in the world of a modern Mark Twain that begins when Zak (22), a young man with Down syndrome runs away from a nursing home where he lives to chase his dream of becoming a professional wrestler and attending the wrestling school of The Salt Water Redneck. Through circumstances beyond their control, Tyler (32), a small-time outlaw on the run becomes Zak's unlikely coach and ally.

Meet Patriot, Potomac, Primrose, Poppet, and Phil, five spirited puppies who, from the moment they're born, begin an incredible journey to become guide dogs for the blind. It's a rigorous two-year process that will take the pups from the care of selfless foster volunteers to specialized trainers to, if they make the cut, a lifelong human companion.

What would one do if their community gave up on a child? The parents of a boy on the autism spectrum take matters into their own hands, forming a competitive swim team, recruiting teens on the spectrum and training them with high expectations and zero pity. Watch the extraordinary rise of the Jersey Hammerheads, capturing a moving quest for inclusion, independence, and a life that feels winning.

A family of four must navigate their lives in silence after mysterious creatures that hunt by sound threaten their survival.

The Abbott family must now face the terrors of the outside world as they fight for survival in silence. Forced to venture into the unknown, they realize that the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats that lurk beyond the sand path.

The story of a young boy in the Midwest is told simultaneously with a tale about a young girl in New York from fifty years ago as they both seek the same mysterious connection.

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