Tuesday, January 26, 2016 at 7:30pm
Sharon Greytak's Weirded Out and Blown Away

155 Freeman Street, Brooklyn

[Image: A woman is sitting on a couch in conversation with a man in a wheelchair.]

Presented by Canaries

Weirded Out and Blown Away, Sharon Greytak, 1986, 16mm, 45 mins

Three years after scholar Michael Oliver coined the term “the social model of disability,” and four years before the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) went into effect, Sharon Greytak delivered the groundbreaking documentary Weirded Out and Blown Away, a film that enacts the seemingly simple yet ultimately radical gesture of a disabled filmmaker turning the camera back on herself and other disabled people—mostly writers and artists—asking them to speak for themselves. Greytak highlights challenges that are particular to the disability community and simultaneously reveals the ordinary nature of disabled life. In contradistinction to popular film and television representations, Greytak’s film does not treat disabled people as pitiful invalids, nor does it exalt them as inspiring heroes who triumph in the face of adversity. Instead, she delivers nuanced portraits of creative types, concerned with romance and sex, careers and paying the bills, as well as sexism and myriad microaggressions. Sometimes the subjects are likeable, sometimes they're not.

Weirded Out emerged during a pivotal era in the history of disability rights and activism. Prior to the ADA’s mandate promising legal protection from discrimination based on disability, which was the first federal legislation of its kind in the US, disabled people were rarely identified as a constituency under the law. In response to the charity model and the medical model of disability, disabled activists and scholars began to develop a theoretical framework for disability in which physical impairments were no longer its sole defining characteristic. They worked to shift the focus from the idea of disability as an individual defect in need of charity or medical expertise, to a social model that viewed disability as a structural and societal barrier. In both its architectures and its attitudes, society was seen as failing to provide access for disabled people, hence disabling people and structurally barring them.

Greytak's film is an affecting, funny, and candid document of a transitional moment—one whose project is still ongoing. It's a work about the lives of disabled people, by disabled people, a central tenet to disability rights made material in the rallying call “Nothing About Us Without Us."

- Carolyn Lazard

Followed by a conversation with Greytak and Lazard.

Tickets - $8, available at door.

Please note: seating is limited. Box office opens at 7pm.

Print of Weirded Out and Blown Away courtesy of the Reserve Film and Video Collection of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

Accessibility Information

Light Industry is on the ground floor and is wheelchair accessible. The bathroom has grab bars, room for a powerchair, and is non gender-segregated. This space is not scent-free, but we do ask that attendees come fragrance-free. The post-screening discussion will be live-streamed with Periscope. If you require ASL interpretation, closed-captioning, audio description for film, or have any other access needs, please contact Carolyn Lazard by 3pm on Friday, January 22.