Accessible Arts and Sydney Film Festival

Event date: 
22 June 2008

June is the Month of Film so get your friends, families and carers ready...

The Sydney Film Festival, in partnership with Accessible Arts NSW, has launched the much-anticipated films included in the Accessible Cinema strand this year. Following the success of last year's program, Clare Stewart, Executive Director of the Sydney Film Festival, promises an outstanding selection of films by or about people with disabilities. These range from first screenings of Australian disability films to international films that will inspire, fascinate and connect all film-goers.

Building on the success of last years program, Accessible Arts is thrilled to be involved in what is to be a powerful collection of films, and, for the first time, a forum entitled Silence is Golden will give people the opportunity to discuss and debate the future of accessible cinema.

'The Sydney Film Festival has highlighted once again that they are able to broaden the scope of their program and provide strong links with the disability sector in Australia and around the world. This takes us a huge step forward in actively engaging all people in the arts.' Sancha Donald, CEO, Accessible Arts

The full program was released on 8 May. The following is what to expect in June.

Forum: Silence is Golden? Many Australians derive pleasure from going to the cinema, yet for over three million people this experience cannot be shared. This forum is not to be missed. Innovative ways to increase access to films for audience members with hearing and vision impairments will be discussed with venue, cinema, film and arts industry and disability representatives. Hosted by Alex Varley (CEO of Media Access Australia) with panellists: Leanne Emerson (General Manager, Production and Digital Operations, Roadshow Entertainment); Tony Oldham (Operations Manager, Atlab Australia); Linda Baker and Michael Gold (Access Services, Red Bee Media Australia); and others to be announced. All talks and forums are FREE!

  • Born Without, Dir. Eva Norvind. An actor (discovered by cult Mexican director Alejandro Jodorowsky) and musician, Jose Flores was the sixth child of a poor Mexican family and he was born without arms. A womaniser and father of seven, Jose's life is beyond remarkable.
  • Her Name is Sabine - Elle S'Appelle Sabine. France. Dir. Sandrine Bonnaire. (Winner of the FIPRESCI award at Cannes Film Festival). A moving story of the filmmakers younger sister, whose autism was undiagnosed for many years and whose treatment, despite her loving family's best endeavours, was often inappropriate.
  • Red Like the Sky - Rosso Come Il Cielo. Italy. Set in 1970s Italy, Bortone's enchanting film is reminiscent of Cinema Paradiso with its unashamed love of the movies. Ten-year-old Mirco is blinded in an accident and sent to a rather stern boarding school for the blind. Red Like the Sky is both thought-provoking and captivating. Recommended for ages 8 and up.
  • Little Moth - Chinese Current program. Peng Tao's eloquent film simply and powerfully 'melds the anger and storytelling scope of Dickens, the documentary-influenced immediacy and sensitive gaze of the Dardenne brothers, and the best tendencies of recent Chinese cinema' (Variety). An impoverished country-couple, whose motivations are more mercenary than merciful, 'adopt' a young girl (the Little Moth of the title) who suffers from a crippling blood disease, to work with them as a begging companion.
  • Body of War - Apocalypse Again program. Motivated by the assertive words of President George W. Bush in the hours following 9/11, 22-year-old Kansas City, Missouri resident Tomas Vincent Young enlisted in the United States Army. Fully expecting to see combat in Afghanistan, he was surprised to be sent to Iraq - where, on his fifth day in-country, 4 April 2004, he took an AK-47 round near the left collarbone that left him paralysed for life. He never fired a single shot.
  • Ben X - World Views program. Belgium. As the title suggests, at the centre of Nic Balthazar's debut feature is Ben - a withdrawn teen who rarely speaks. He's been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, a variant of autism, although his mother isn't particularly convinced that this lengthy phrase has any meaning at all. Winner of three awards at the Montreal Film Festival, including the Grand Prix, Balthazar's film as well as being an entertaining ride, looks at life for an autistic teen from an entirely new angle.

Other films that have a reference to disability include Playing for Charlie, Choke and Muscle.

The 55th Sydney Film Festival will run from the 4 - 22 June 2008. To view the Accessible Cinema program and venue access information, visit and go to the Accessible Cinema link on the program page.


Tickets and Flexipass are available for purchase on the Sydney Film Festival website ( Select the movie you are interested in and click 'Buy Tickets' or you can contact Ticketmaster via phone on 136 100. For specific access requirements in order to purchase your tickets such as booking an audio description head set or a wheelchair accessible seat, please contact the Sydney Film Festival for further information via phone - 02 9318 0999, fax - 02 9319 0055 or email - [email protected].

About Accessible Arts

Accessible Arts is the peak arts and disability organisation across New South Wales. Accessible Arts promotes and provides opportunities for people with disabilities to participate in arts and cultural activities either as audience members; through attending galleries, theatres, museums and festivals; or as participants in art, drama, music, dance and multimedia activities; and by developing as professional artists. Over the years Accessible Arts has worked in assisting arts organisations such as Sydney Opera House, Sydney Art Fair, Biennale of Sydney and Sydney Film Festival. To keep up to date with upcoming news and arts events subscribe to the free Accessible Arts monthly newsletter at

For further information, images or media enquiries please contact Accessible Arts on 02 9251 6499 or Sydney Film Festival on 02 9318 0999.

Alison McLaren: 02 9251 6499 (ext. 6) Email: [email protected]

Nadia de Ceglie: 0414 741 089 Email: [email protected]