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Disabilities no barrier to making movies

Update: May, 20/2013 - 09:31
On the set: Mai Van Quy (right) and his team practise filming as part of programme to introduce movie making skills to young disabled people. — Photo courtesy Unicef Viet Nam

by Tran Phuong Anh

HCM CITY (VNS)— Against the hustle and bustle of city traffic, a young boy is quietly putting up a large poster on an empty wall next to a restaurant.

While he brushes on the glue with his one good hand, some local boys pull a trick by pouring water on him from the roof of the building.

He continues calmly. The poster reads: "Protect our earth – do not litter and keep our surroundings clean". Then he moves on to his next destination, an open market.

Khong Tan Duc is the director and actor of a one-minute film that tells a story of his life on the busy streets of HCM City, delivering awareness-raising messages about the environment.

Duc, 19, is one of 16 young people with disabilities who participated in a five-day OneMinutesJr. workshop in HCM City from 23 to 27 April. Organised by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Viet Nam in partnership with the city's Department of Labour and Social Affairs, the workshop introduced participants to basic filmmaking skills and creative techniques for making one-minute films.

"Most people believe that we can't – with everything. We can't live an ordinary life without dependency. We can't do things that people without disabilities can," says Nguyen Quang Minh, 19, currently attending the city's Centre for Protection and Vocational Training.

"I got picked on and teased by my peers in school every Monday morning at the flag-hoisting session. They tried to playfully imitate me as we went through the procedure. For the rest of the time, I was left completely by myself, since no one wanted to befriend a boy who was not normal."

Like many of the young participants' projects, Minh's film communicates the message of ability. In his film Breaking Away, Minh depicts himself doing something most of us may think simple, but for him is a transformation – riding a bicycle. "I can be independent. I can move around at my own will," he says.

One by one, each young filmmaker tells a story about his or her dreams, hopes and abilities. Some films illustrate the heartfelt thirst for sound of the hearing-impaired. Tran Thi Phuong Trang, 19, shows herself as a dancer teaching dance to her friends, while Diep Gia Bao, 19, produces beautiful sounds that people often take for granted.

In his film Crocodile Art Attack, 22-year-old Pham Xuan Quang features himself gathering materials on the sidewalk and then using his skilled hands to weave torn newspapers and a used plastic bottle into a crocodile. The sense of imagination is striking. "At the beginning, everyone was a bit worried about the young people's active participation, as most were quite shy," said Karen Cirillo, the UNICEF workshop coordinator. "As soon as they opened up towards the end of the first day, their amazing ideas began to flow."

The wish for equal opportunity is also an important theme. Twenty-year-old Mai Van Quy plays the head of a company named We Have It All, which provides all kinds of services and equipment, ranging from mind-controlled air-conditioning machines to touch-screen gadgets that transmit thoughts.

"My dream is to open a company that provides everything, especially the machines we might need," he says. "This helps bridge the boundaries between what we can do as humans and what we cannot as people with disabilities."

For many participants, the workshop was a short escape from daily life – often a life of hardship, as most come from very disadvantaged circumstances – to a place where their abilities and kindness are honoured.

"I didn't expect the workshop to be so much fun. I met a lot of friends who are like me, and that gave me the strength to continue with confidence in life," said Le Kim Trang, 17.

"All we want is to be successful with what we choose to do," added Tran Thi Minh Tuyen, 20, her roommate.

The workshop wrapped up with screenings of the 16 films, followed by long rounds of applause from their friends, teachers and families.

Several films created by participants will be screened at UNICEF's global launch of the State of the World's Children 2013 report on children with disabilities on May 30 in Da Nang. Selected participants from the workshop will also be attending to present their films. — VNS


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