In each major award category at the 2016 Oscars in February, the nominees were white. So blanched were they that it kicked off a Twitter hashtag, #OscarsSoWhite--a reminder that people of color are sorely underrepresented in American cinema. It's a problem for the disability community, as well.
"I probably shouldn't name films, but I Am Sam, with Sean Penn," said Arc-Idaho Programs Director Nicole Lang. "An actual actor with an intellectual disability should have played that role. In films or in television, when the character has [intellectual development disorder], there is an actor with IDD playing that part."
In I Am Sam, Penn plays a man living with an intellectual disability and struggling for custody of his daughter. The film drew fire because Penn does not have IDD. That criticism doesn't apply to the films that will be shown at the sixth annual Sprout Film Festival, set to take place Friday-Saturday, April 29-30, at The Egyptian Theatre and The Flicks. Organized by Lang, each of the films features people with IDD and range from short dramas to music videos. Lang said audiences might be surprised at how upbeat they can be.
"A lot of times people think it might be sad or about someone's struggle. ... It's more uplifting than many people imagine," she said.
The films include shorts like Be My Brother, a 2009 film about a man with IDD charming a woman at a bus stop. In Jack Blond, a James Bond fan becomes the hero when a famous diamond comes to town.
There are dozens of films, each under 20 minutes in length, playing at The Egyptian Theatre April 29. On April 30, catch Billy the Kid, an 84-minute documentary about a young man coming of age with Asberger's syndrome playing at 12:30 p.m. at The Flicks. While there have been misconceptions about the tone of the films, Boiseans have gradually caught wind of how fun the festival is.
"I think people will be very surprised with how good people will feel when they leave," she said.