Learning Disability Week, taking place in the third week of June is presented by Mencap,
Learning Disability and Film
Learning disabled people are chronically underrepresented in the film industry. This is a time to reflect on supporting learning disabled representation in the film industry as well as consider access to cinema for neurodivergent audiences.
Ian Davies’ film Amber and Me follows the challenges for twin sisters through 4 years of school and charts the changes in their relationship, uniquely from their own perspectives. Amber has Down’s syndrome and is about to start school together with her sister, Olivia. Although at first her experience is positive, she soon starts to struggle and asks to stay at home. Olivia is keen to keep her twin in the same class and so begins the struggle of keeping the girls together at school. It can be streamed through virtual cinemas and purchased at the Amber & Me website.
In 2019, FAN New Releases supported Signature’s title The Peanut Butter Falcon, a modern Mark Twain-esque adventure starring Shia LaBeouf (American Honey, Fury) as a small-time outlaw turned unlikely coach who joins forces with Zack Gottsagen‘s Zak, a young man with Down Syndrome on the run from a nursing home with the dream of becoming a professional wrestler. You can now watch The Peanut Butter Falcon on BFI Player.
You can also watch the film My Feral Heart on Amazon Prime. A drama in which Luke (Steven Brandon), a young man with Down’s syndrome who prizes his independence, is forced into a care home after the death of his mother. There he rails against the restrictions imposed on him, but his frustrations are allayed by his budding friendships with his care-worker Eve (Shana Swash) and a mysterious feral girl (Pixie Le Knot).
Oska Bright, based in Brighton is the worlds biggest learning disability film festival. Find out more about their amazing work here.
Learning disability and Cinema
Through Covid learning disabled and neurodiversity focused organisations kept in touch by running online activities with their members. If you are interested in running online activity you may find some helpful resources below.
If you’re interested in running a relaxed screening to help bring in Learning Disabled audiences to your cinema, find out more in our quick tips for running relaxed screenings. You may also find some transferable advice in our autism-friendly screenings guide, though bear in mind much of this advice is specific to people living with autism, not necessarily those who are Learning Disabled. Ideally, consult with Learning Disabled groups in your area for advice and expertise.