Sunday, June 22, 2008

New documentary profiles wonderful independent living relationship

Diana Braun and Kathleen Conour

"Body & Soul: Diana and Kathy" by filmmaker Alice Elliott profiles a beautiful independent living relationship. Kathy has cerebral palsy and Diana, who has Down syndrome, is her friend and personal attendant. They have been together for 35 years.

I got to see a preview of the documentary at the Society for Disability Studies meeting, and it looks excellent. It will appear on PBS' POV show in upcoming months.

Described as "an intimate portrait of two women with disabilities who are determined to live independent, non-institutionalized lives," the film's back story is this:

Diana Braun and Kathleen Conour approached Alice Elliott at the 2001 National Arc Convention, and asked her to make a documentary about them. At first Alice was reluctant to take on another project, since she had just finished 'The Collector of Bedford Street.' Kathy, however, was persistent in her emails, so when Alice was in Chicago in the Spring of 2002, she decided to take her camera and travel to Springfield. Diana and Kathy welcomed her and were willing participants. The result is 'Body & Soul: Diana & Kathy.'

Diana and Kathy are friends and advocates, who continue to explore innovative solutions for people with disabilities. From their experience living outside of
institutions for 35 years, they became advocates for choices in housing for
people with disabilities.

Kathy is concerned and interested in how people with disabilities can plan for and receive end-of-life hospice care, and you can contact Kathy, Diana or the filmmaker at the documentary Web site,