Daria Gamliel for Cinetalk.net

“When you love, you have everything,” says a wise old man to a lad who has yet to figure out the direction of his life, in Kirill Mikhanovsky’s Give Me Liberty. The film kicks off this year’s ReelAbilities Film Festival. Instagram Influencer Lauren ‘Lolo’ Spencer may play a supporting role, but she holds together the entire story. As with many of the cast members, Spencer plays a character with the same disability as she has in real life. Though her character Tracy’s ALS is not emphasized, neither is it hidden.

Tracy is one of the clientele of an adapted transport vehicle driver, Vic. As with Tracy’s disability, we don’t get a lot of insight about what makes Vic, well…tick. But he appears to be a goodhearted guy, who has trouble saying no not only to his clients but also to his family. As frustrating as his job can be, the kid never gives up, and takes time out of his own life to make sure that others are more comfortable. He takes care of a grandfather with deteriorating mental health. Between job tasks, he tries to hear out his slightly hysterical mother. He even helps certain clients dress themselves. All above and beyond the profession of simple bus driver.

Vic is having what appears to be a vey, very bad day. But his patience is bottomless. He seems to learn about life from all the quirks of the people around him. When asked what he really wants to achieve in life, he says he hasn’t figured it out yet. But to the viewer, it seems quite clear Vic has already found his calling. He never talks down to a client. His frustration never escalates to cause more drama to people whose lives are already dramatic due to social pressures in the Land of the Free.

The U S of A can easily be mocked by outsiders. The so-called land of the free is full of whiners who complain about everything. Everyone is unhappy! Everything is a protest! But from a disabled person’s point of view, many Americans have it easy. The riders of Vic’s bus have mobility issues, learning disabilities, come from other countries, can’t necessarily speak English well. This strange amalgam of people from different age groups and cultural backgrounds becomes its own community. A microcosm of America. Yet, unlike the outside world, nobody seems to be bothered by each others’ disabilities or social ranking. Give Me Liberty makes a link between family and community, and raises questions about who helps disabled people. Often, it’s each other.

https://reelabilities.org until May 30th, 2021 – Tickets are available online and PWYC (Pay What You Can).