New Award-Winning Film Captures Inside View of Life in a Wheelchair

February 2, 2023

There’s a lot of buzz around the new documentary “I Didn’t See You There” by Reid Davenport, a filmmaker with a cerebral palsy.  His film takes viewers inside his life through footage shot entirely from his perspective while sitting in his power wheelchair.

It won the Directing Award for U.S. Documentary at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, and was named one of the “Best Movie of 2022” by the New York Times. It premiered on PBS POV on January 9, and is now streaming here:

Davenport narrates the film, but he doesn’t tell us about his experiences; instead, he shows us in a way that New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis describes as “captivating” because it is so “honestly and candidly human.”

He passes a circus tent in his hometown neighborhood of Oakland, CA and remembers that people with disabilities have long been categorized as ‘freaks” at whom people gawk and stare as they did at the old circus “freak shows.”.  He takes us through the obstacles and difficulties of his daily life as he navigates wheelchair ramps, blocked crosswalks, the BART transit system, a plane trip to visit family in Connecticut—and encounters people who look past, or just don’t see him.

Much of the film will be familiar to people with spinal cord injuries.  However, Davenport’s attempt to get inside what it’s like to move around the world in a wheelchair is an original, effective and moving portrayal—like nothing we’ve seen before.

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