Monday, January 28, 2008

The Key of G explores disability, caregiving and interdependence

"The Key of G," a documentary about a young disabled man and his caregivers, directed by Robert Arnold, explores the world of caregiving and friendship. "THE KEY OF G tells the story of Gannet, a 22-year-old man with severe disabilities, as he prepares to move out of his mother's home and into a San Francisco apartment with three musicians and artists as primary caregivers," according to its web site,

The film won the 2007 Golden Gate Award for Best Bay Area Documentary at the 50th San Francisco International Film Festival. Here's what a Jan. 24 article in the San Francisco Chronicle said about it: "Showing people with disabilities on film can be tricky. There are so many cliched images to avoid - saintly figures or frank objects of pity. In the documentary 'The Key of G,' Bay Area filmmaker Robert Arnold avoids stereotypes in showing audiences the life of Gannet, a young man in his 20s with a rare syndrome who moves into an apartment with three of his artist caregivers. Together, they not only manage but thrive in this setting, a contrast to the model of institutionalized care. . . .The film is lyrical not sentimental, and the pace is leisurely."

The film will be shown on PBS, but is also available for purchase on DVD.

I have only seen the trailer for the film, but I like what I see about it on its web site. I think more disability films need to embrace this notion of interdependence. The director told the San Francisco Chronicle, "I think that an important part is getting the concept of interdependence. The caregivers get so much back from Gannet. The living situation works as well for the caregivers as it does for him. That house becomes a center for making music and influences their art."

We all rely on each other and can learn from each other. I think many non-disabled people fear disability because they see it as a "dependent" state, when, in fact, people with disabilities are just living a more openly interdependent life. The highly regarded disability studies scholar, Paul Longmore of San Francisco State U., once explained that non-disabled people can learn a lot from the outwardly interdependent way many disabled people must live. Many non-disabled people don't see the interdependent way that they themselves live every day, relying on others to grow their food, provide their transportation, build their houses, educate their children, etc.