Sundance festival opens with a trip to camp, and a call to action on disabled rights

By Sean P. Means: For More Info, Go Here…

The 2020 Sundance Film Festival, an event that regulars often compare to going to summer camp, showed life at a real summer camp in its opening-night film — with a rousing and emotional documentary about camp kids who sparked a civil rights movement.

“I really wanted to go back to camp so badly [when making the movie],” said Jim LeBrecht, co-director and narrator of the documentary “Crip Camp.” The film premiered Thursday evening at the Eccles Theatre in Park City, launching the 11 days filled with 120 feature films, plus TV series, shorts, panels and conversations.

“Crip Camp” shows life in the early ‘70s at Camp Jened, a summer camp for disabled children in the Catskills Mountains of upstate New York. The camp, run by hippies and free spirits, gave its kids “the ability to be together and be able to be ourselves, in a society where we cannot be ourselves,” Judy Heumann, who was a 23-year-old counselor at the camp in 1971, said during the post-screening Q&A.

The movie also shows how many of the campers, led by Heumann, left New York for the San Francisco Bay area, and became activists for the rights of the disabled.

Heumann was one of the first to go west, said LeBrecht, who co-directed the film with Nicole Newnham. “She called back to the old country, in New York,” LeBrecht said. “She said, ‘The ramps are paved with gold!’”

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