Two very different shorts at ReelAbilities, happen to touch on a common theme. Dating. Relationships, both romantic and platonic.
Same Nightmare (by Spencer MacKay), has a subplot about a teenage gay couple. Love & Loss (by Yiying Nikki Li) explores the love life of a woman born disabled, and the lack of a romantic life of a woman who became disabled.
All three protagonists deal with the grief, annoyance, and frustration of feeling left out, feeling less-than, and being made fully aware that yes, they are different.
Only Nicole Evans (Love & Loss) smiles through it all and snags herself a great husband. She has Osteogenesis Imperfecta and prefers to get around in a wheelchair, though she can walk where necessary. The syndrome causes dwarfism and is often referred to as Brittle Bone Disease. Aside from multiple surgical procedures, the disorder does not seem to phase Nicole in her adult day to day life.
Colby (Same Nightmare) also gets around on wheels. He appears to take the difficulties of socializing and high school in stride. So why does he stare in the mirror so often, and feel so invisible? Nobody picks on him at school, and people seem to like him. But why can’t he get a date after breaking up with his boyfriend? Ironically, it is his tall, able-bodied ex who gets bullied by two shorter boys. The film shows the world through a nearly-silent observer’s eyes. Colby doesn’t speak much throughout, but the viewer gets the feeling there is frustration about being on the outside looking in. The problem is, Colby is inside and still feels this way.
Karen Crespo (Love & Loss), a woman in her 30’s, is by far the most sad case of society alienating a person because of disability. She does not need a wheelchair, she can get around quite well on prosthetic limbs. She is very independent, and makes use of her arms in ways many amputees cannot. But she hasn’t had a boyfriend since high school. She was pretty – a party girl, and seemed to have it all. And one day, viral meningitis changed her life forever. As a quadruple amputee with scars over a large portion of her skin, even her niece didn’t want to hug her while she was hospitalized. Karen is depressed. She is angry. So many years have gone by and though she has been living her life regardless, she is scarred for life. On the inside.
Finding love, even from platonic sources shouldn’t be this hard. But this is the reality for many people with disabilities. There is a misconception that someone like Karen may be contagious. That she is hard on the eyes. That somehow she is any less worthy of love. Hopefully, the more people like her speak openly about their situation, the less outsiders will shun them.
A worthwhile watch.
Same Nightmare – 7PM, May 30th – Innis Town Hall, Toronto.
Love & Loss – 1PM, June 1st – Al Green Theatre, Toronto.