A new series of documentary films from Maverick Television is about to air on Channel 4 that takes disability into new creative directions. The show, New Shoots, airs at 8.25 on Sunday mornings, repeated at 5.40am Saturdays, presenting 12 debut documentaries all coming from disabled directors. The first run of the show begins on Sunday 8th April.
Across the series New Shoots will watch breakdance crews battling it out on the dance floor, explore the personal stories of children living with pain, investigate the emotional consequences of knife crime and meet couples who have made wiold monkeys part of their families.
The directors have been supported by experienced documentary teams from Maverick, but the key to getting the directing commissions was talent, as series producer Wendie Ottewill explains:
" Opportunites for deaf and disabled directing talent should be no different from those for anyone else. The key word here is talent. For those who have it, there should be no barriers to success in this industry."
The first film in the series is "Gone to the Dogs," a very atmospheric portrait of a night at Walthamstow dog track, now going upmarket into corporate hospitality land as Walthamstow Stadium. Regular punters still go along of course to back their fancied greyhounds and try to take some money off the trackside bookies. Director Klaus Fried gets under the skin of the occasion with a revealing portrait of life around the track, from the dog owners who eat beans on toast in order to feed steak to their hound, to the two girls on a fun night out who choose their cocktails and their runners the same way, by what sounds like a nice name. You will enjoy the special sense of occasion as much as they did. Take it in on April 8th.
Sightseeing Blind, the second offering in the series, must have been pretty familiar territory for director Amar Latif who has the same disability as one of his characters, Linda, a blind school dinner lady from Bradford. She's guided on an art appreciation holiday around Florence by Hashi, a Brixton nightclub bouncer. What begins as a clear case of the blind leading the blind opens our eyes to the problems that are central to the lives of people with this disability. Hashi seems dismissive of some of Linda's concerns and rather brusquely feels she needs to break away from dependency.
Strangely enough, it works and as Linda's confidence grows so does her enjoyment of her art lovers holiday. Hashi finally realises his place is to be Linda's eyes, not her prop and he gives a wonderful flowing description of the renaissance painting "The Creation of Venus" with a girl in the buff in the middle, with her long auburny-yellow hair hanging down as her modesty, using it to cover her private parts. Not Brian Sewell exactly, but true enough, never the less. A most enjoyable film and I wish I was Linda's eyes, surrounded by such breathtaking beauty and to discuss what classical Italian sculpture feels like, as Hashi did. This kind of second sight revelation needs to be in prime time, not a disability dawn ghetto. Airs April 15th, 8.25am