Link August 2017 - Page 54

arts defiant lives T he new documentary Defiant Lives tells the story of the disability rights movement in Australia, the United States and Britain. The latest offering from director Sarah Barton (No Limits, Untold Desires), Defiant Lives features interviews with more than 30 people as well as archival footage to show how disabled activists have changed the world over the last 40 years. Sarah spoke to Anthea Skinner about her film. “After I finished working on No differences between the experiences Limits I wanted to make something of people with disability in Australia, about disability that was more Britain and the United States. “The considered and well-researched,” way each country treats people Sarah explains, “so after a couple with disability actually reflects the of false starts I settled on making a prevailing socio-political structure of film about disability activism. The that society,” she says. “As (Australian Churchill Fellowship I received in 2010 activist) Julia Haraksin says, in Australia allowed me to make a film with a more it’s all about a ‘fair go’, in America they international focus as I was able to have a culture of individual civil rights prominence in the disability community travel to the UK and the US and record and in the United Kingdom they have for her ground-breaking film on sex interviews with activists there. When the Welfare State which came in after and disability, Untold Desires (1994), I came home I continued recording World War 2 and is constantly under which won both an AFI Award and a interviews with Australian activists.” attack but still provides a safety net of Logie for best documentary. She was sorts for people. This understanding also the founding director of the long- the disability community, Sarah found is something I hope comes through running television show No Limits, an that she learnt a lot while filming in the film so people can understand experience which inspired her to make Defiant Lives. “The whole experience why things are different in different Defiant Lives. of making this film was a huge learning countries.” curve for me,” she says, “I’m learning all the time. Sometimes you realise that years in the disability community, your ideas or behaviour are ableist and Sarah has seen a lot of changes in you need to be ready to acknowledge the way people think about disability. that and make changes. You have “In 1994 there was no interest in to be humble and ready to admit disability at all,” she says, “The only mistakes. Hopefully however there are reason we got Untold Desires made no big mistakes of that kind in the film. was because it was about sex and we We certainly tested the film with key all know that SBS is obsessed with people to make sure that the film was sex, god love them. In 2003 when I a good reflection of the movement. started making No Limits there was An activist wrote to me today saying talk of developing a UN convention on ‘I think you have made the film we have the rights of people with disabilities. dreamed of’ which was such a lovely I didn’t really understand what that thing to hear. I hope they are right and meant for ordinary people but it was that the film has a long life showing an important step and has led to real people about disability rights.” change for people and recognition of rights for disabled people.” 52 Sarah Barton first came to arts Despite her long association with The film also demonstrates the After working for more than 20 linkonline.com.au