Saturday, February 16, 2008

Director: Why BAFTA was wrong to pull disability film

Scene from "The Last American Freak Show."

Director Richard Butchins, whose film "The Last American Freak Show" BAFTA pulled from appearing in a disability film festival in London this weekend, says BAFTA is wrong to think it has "better and more accurate judgement about what is an appropriate film to show at a disability event than the disability organisation they were partnering with." The film festival is co-sponsored by the London Disability Arts Forum.

Butchins wrote his response to the controversy in The Guardian arts blog on Wednesday. He says he realizes his documentary is unorthodox, explaining "it presents an unusual version of disability, showing people deliberately displaying their deformity in a challenging and confrontational way, but it's also a road trip that a rather unlikely group of protagonists take along America's west coast, performing and carousing as they go."

Butchins says the BAFTA incident illustrates "how little thought and care is given to disability either by the film and TV industry or by society in general."

The documentary has drawn support from some disabled actors in the UK. Performer Mat Fraser voiced his approval of the film in a Guardian article Friday. He explains, "we wouldn't put up with a white or straight person's reacting fearfully to a black or gay film-maker's viewpoint - but Bafta got freaked out."