There have been many changes going on here at Day in Washington. Some have been cosmetic, such as the new layout, but others are more substantial, such as the fact that we now carry content from a variety of contributors. One of the changes is the addition of a “Featured Disability Video.” As many of you may know, media and disability is an area of strong interest to me. Modern media plays a significant role in shaping our society and culture.
Disability in film has historically been relegated to villains, victim-oh-help-me stories, or the syrupy-sweet inspirational films. It has impacted how we see people with disabilities, and even within our own community, it impacts young peole, parents, care providers, policy-makers etc., the results of which can be amazingly beneficial or unbelievably detrimental on our individual lives, our communities and yes, even our national policies and politics.
So…I thought it might be of interest to feature disability video on Day in Washington. That doesn’t mean that the videos posted will necessarily be “good” in their depiction of disability, or that they’ll be only fiction (some may even be interviews), or that I endorse or condemn them in any way. What I can promise is that they will make you think about disability.
“Wheelchair Werewolf” by Joe Avella
The inaugural video, “Wheelchair Werewolf” is a wonderfully fun little comedic short by Joe Avella. Crafted in the style of my favorite old pulpy B-horror movies it does something that I’ve rarely seen but always enjoyed in films that involve disability…treat it in a playful way. This short film isn’t serious, it isn’t a statement of any sort (that I know of), it is just a fun romp that teasingly follows the stereotypes of your typical horror movie, making fun of it in a way that shows a respect for the genre, and also (perhaps coincidentally) makes fun of the stereotypes we see regarding disability, without making fun of people with disabilities. In truth, Joe Avella has done something very clever.
“Wheelchair Werewolf” has been making the rounds of the film festival circuit, showing well in many of the short horror festivals. I can hope that its creator will also consider submitting the short to some of the disability festivals as well. Joe Avella is an independent filmmaker, actor, writer, improviser, and sketch comedian. Some of Joe's shorts have appeared on the IFC, Spike TV, and WTTW's Image Union. He's also had his work screened at several festivals including the SXSW Film Festival. If you’d like to find out more about “Wheelchair Werewolf” or its creator, please check out Joe’s website.