The BFI Doc Society Fund has teamed with FWD-Doc: Filmmakers with Disabilities to create an industry resource aimed at ensuring disabled-accessible and disabled-inclusive documentary filmmaking and exhibition.

It will officially launch at Sheffield Doc/Fest today.

The FWD-Doc Engagement Pack, supported by the BFI Doc Society Fund through National Lottery funding, provides practical resources and information for the film industry on how to engage effectively, respectfully and creatively with disabled film talent and audiences. It is designed to empower all areas of the independent film sector; from distribution, exhibition and festivals to decision makers across awards and funding, and filmmakers. The download is here

The Engagement Pack will be discussed at a Sheffield/DocFest talk entitled ‘Reimagining Disability in Documentary’, where James LeBrecht, co-director of Oscar nominated Crip Camp and founding member of FWD-Doc: Filmmakers with Disabilities, will speak to filmmakers who are helping to reshape the narrative around disability. The panel includes: Lindsey Dryden, director & producer, and founding member of FWD-Doc: Filmmakers with Disabilities; disabled filmmakers Ella Glendining, director of Is There Anybody Out There? and Kit Vincent, director of Red Herring; and Lisa Marie Russo, BFI Doc Society Fund Executive.

Ella Glendining, Director of Is There Anybody Out There?, said: “This engagement pack is such an amazing resource for filmmakers, commissioners and buyers who need guidance on disability issues. It is so encouraging to know that industry people now have a place to go to learn about ableism, the social model of disability, intersectionality and best practice, and the icing on the cake is that it was put together by my disabled peers, because quite frankly, we know best. Understanding the importance of reframing traditional disability narratives is key, as is laid out clearly in the document. This makes me feel that I personally am more likely to have success with my work; that my perspective will be seen as timely and essential.”

Kit Vincent, Director of Red Herring, said: “As a filmmaker who has experienced the industry as both an able bodied person and now somebody living with an invisible disability, trying to keep up with the non-inclusive working standards and practices that exist has been difficult and at times had an adverse effect on my health. This pack is a step towards creating a space where D/deaf and disabled filmmakers get to define what works for them in all aspects, with the support of the people who can really make a difference.”

Lindsey Dryden, Producer (Unrest) & Director, and founding member of FWD-Doc: Filmmakers with Disabilities, said: “We’re thrilled to have created this Engagement Pack with the support and expertise of fellow disabled filmmakers, including the BFI Press Reset and FWD-Doc communities, and with the backing of the BFI Doc Society Fund. 20% of us in Britain have disabilities, and yet we’re rarely included in the film industry or its output. So we’re delighted to see a new commitment in UK film to understanding ableism, creating equitable and non-extractive practices, and exploring the huge creative, social and economic opportunities that are available to our industry if we engage fully with disabled film professionals, participants and audiences at last. We hope that this resource will be used by everyone in the filmmaking field – from funders, execs and commissioners to business affairs, awards bodies, voters, critics, exhibitors, distributors and filmmakers – to interrogate assumptions, create non-ableist environments and really include the richness of disabled perspectives. Together we can create a filmmaking environment that values D/deaf and disabled people’s lives on-screen, behind the camera and in society too.”

Lisa Marie Russo, BFI Doc Society Fund Executive, said: “The FWD-Doc Engagement Pack is a fantastic resource that will be invaluable for filmmakers as they navigate the stages of getting their film to the widest possible audience. Launching at Sheffield Doc/Fest, where we support so many filmmakers, it’s great to see the Engagement Pack covers film festival provision in some detail. ”

Jen Smith, Head of Inclusion at the BFI, said: “This incredibly practical resource will help all members of our documentary community to ensure important work by and about D/deaf and disabled people receives the support and recognition it deserves. The Engagement Pack is full of useful guidance, including the recommendations from our Disability Screen Advisory Group’s Press Reset campaign. We’re grateful to National Lottery players for enabling us to support this resource through the BFI Doc Society Fund.”


Jon Creamer

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