RTA doc focuses on developmental disabilities

L'Arche

(Courtesy Angela Alimi)

What was supposed to be a film that displayed the work of L’Arche, an international organization based in Toronto that works with people living with developmental disabilities, turned out to be a touching documentary about a boy.

Jason Clinker, a 23-year-old who lives with a developmental disability, has become the shining star of the RTA school of media documentary, Unwritten.

Angela Alimi, a fourth-year media production student, is the executive producer and director of the film. She came up with the story idea after her mentor suggested that she make a documentary for her final year practicum that would inspire her.

“He suggested the idea of doing something with an organization he is connected to called L’Arche,” she said.
Once she arrived at the organization, Alimi said she realized that it was a special and unique place.

“We saw people of all abilities coming together and forming meaningful relationships. It was something that seemed so simple yet so absent in our busy lives,” Alimi said.

But she soon found that a documentary’s storyline isn’t always set, because at times something or someone may come along to inspire something that is beyond what was originally in mind. For Alimi, that person was Clinker.

“While planning out the film with our adviser, we decided that the film would have a bigger impact if we focused in on one person and shared their story, and that person became Jason,” Alimi said.

The film focuses on underfunding for the developmental service sector, which has left numerous individuals with an uncertain future in terms of housing. Wait-lists for housing options are decades long with no timeline as to when a spot will become available. The film showcases the work of the Clinker family members as they care for Jason, who is currently on the wait-list for housing,

Bridge Docs Productions is the production company that was created to make this film. It consists of nine members, eight of whom are in their final year at Ryerson. Working on a budget of around $2,500 was a challenge while creating the documentary.

“We had a relatively small budget to work with while making this film,” Alimi said. “Each of us contributed out our pockets to make up the budget. We also received the ORT Micki Moore scholarship from the RTA department.”

Through the documentary, viewers are able to gain insight into a community that is detached from mainstream society and that is overlooked by the people who categorize as able-bodied in society. Alimi agrees that there is a learning experience by understanding the lives of people who differ from the social norms.

“It is such a shame because it is these individuals who have so much to teach us in their friendships. We can learn the most simple yet meaningful values from people of differing abilities,” she said.

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