Tuesday, June 17, 2008

What is Disability?

Before I started this film project, I had to ask myself: What is disability? The medical field usually focuses on disability in terms of impairment due to a sickness - disability that leads to suffering and disadvantage. The medical model focuses on 'curing' the disability or the illness rather than looking at the social factors that people with disabilities face. Lately however, a new area called 'disability studies' has emerged. Disability studies starts where the medical model leaves off and looks into the oppression and discrimination that people with disabilities face.

My research for this film began with me thinking about my place as a filmmaker with a disability. Looking to the disability community and the artists producing within it has inspired me to produce this film about my experience during this time. I started my research by looking at other artists with disabilities, in order to understand their work within the art world.
I feel that within the disability community, art practice is a method of reflection, and is self-empowering. Like other minority groups such as cultural and racial minorities, women, and queer communities, people with disabilities have finally begun fight for equality within society. I hope that my film is one way to bring to light the struggles that people with disabilities have to face on a day-to-day basis.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Personal Career to When I Walk

My first short film, Olivia’s Puzzle, was completed in 2001 and exhibited it in its first major festival just after the World Trade Center towers were attacked. Subsequently, I moved to New York to start my first full-length film, Lest We Forget, which focuses on the racial profiling of South Asians, Arabs, and Muslims after 9/11. During this production, my walking became slower and off-balance at times. In 2005, after a series of tests, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, though I expect I had it for years before that. A rarer form of the disease, classified as Primary-Progressive, it is not treatable by medication normally prescribed for the disease. This slow progressing disease is having a massive impact on my life, causing my walking to become more difficult and distorting my vision. The latter has been difficult to cope with as a filmmaker. While my symptoms were slowly worsening, I managed to complete two more films.

Finally I am in production on my third film since my diagnosis, When I Walk, and I put my experience with having Multiple Sclerosis to the screen. The short film spans the course of four months as I try to find ways to continue to walk. The film uses my personal narrative as an anchor to weave in and out of interviews, explanations, and findings on Multiple Sclerosis within a jigsaw puzzle of incidents. The story follows my journey as I come to better understand the disease and develop a strategy for the future. When I Walk, through a cinematic journey, provides information and inspiration to those affected by Multiple Sclerosis and their supporters.

Saturday, June 7, 2008


It's getting hotter and hotter. Today was very hot...but two days ago wasn't. I walked from University and 13th to 2ns and 11th in the cool night. Heat in NYC for summer is not such a good thing for MS.

Today, I went to an amazing dance production called Momix. Taking photos with Jonny afterwards, I felt pretty tired. I actually fell over in front of the dancers. Embarrassing yes, but dancers are the best people to fall around because in a production like theirs, it happens regularly.

What else have I been up to? A lot. Hanging with old friends. Setting up the film website. Yesterday[, I helped into interview Neomatrix for a Sear commercial at Jay-Z's studio off 6th avenue.

Everyday is exciting. Disease or no disease. Life is good. It passes by fast.