In 2012, we (Co-producers/Directors Cheryl Green and Cynthia Lopez) began making a documentary about what role the arts play in the lives of three people with traumatic brain injury in the Pacific Northwest. We completed filming in Portland, Olympia, and Tacoma in September, 2014. We are now raising funds to pay for editing the footage, creating an audio mix, sound sweetening, and color correction.
Any money raised past our goal will go toward disability access to create Closed Captions and Audio Description, as well as toward licensing music from artists with disabilities and film festival submissions.
"Who Am I To Stop It" is an innovative film in the world of brain injury documentaries. It's directed by someone who has experienced brain injury. Also, it's observational in nature, rather than relying on interviews and experts or sensationalizing the traumatic injury events. We see our subjects not as individuals who have deficits or faults. Rather, they are people rooted in society, and many of the difficulties they face--and their wonderful triumphs--happen in the interaction between them and people around them. They are not odd or disordered, even if they experience disability; they are people with agency, drive, and value.
Although the people in the film all have had brain injuries, here you see them as so much more than a crash story, a list of symptoms, or survivors. They transcend categories of race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, age, and level of community support. And they all practice art, for a connection to their own inner lives as well as to the community. Whether temporary or ongoing, it is a bridge out of social isolation and a place to come together to understand disability, self-sufficiency, and inclusion.
Read more about the film and the Directors at www.WhoAmIToStopIt.com.
Check out pictures from the film shoots and lots of posts about other artists in the disability justice community at www.facebook.com/WhoAmIToStopIt.
Meet the Characters
(Dani Sanderson at Pride in 2013 in Olympia, WA)
Dani is a rapper, beatboxer, and poet. Her lyrics talk about love, sexuality, heartbreak, her brain injury, and anything else she longs to explore. Sometimes living a life you never expected or planned for and having a brain that works differently is a massive challenge. Dani's rhymes share her stories and reach beyond her own experience to detail the pain, struggle, and celebrations in life. She has had enduring family support since her brain injury, yet most of her friends left her side before she recovered and didn't return.
(Kris Haas at a brain injury arts exhibition in 2013 in Portland, OR)
The outside world brings many rewards and connections, but it also comes with a constant onslaught of sounds, movements, lights, and rapid-fire decisions. Kris has become seriously isolated because of her impairments and has struggled to maintain family support. Like many with a brain injury or mental illness, she teeters on the edge of stability and poverty. Yet despite frequent challenges, her abstract expressionistic painting is a constant source of pride, creativity, and income. It is a bridge for others to get to know her and a connection to her own sense of self and self-worth.
(Brandon sings with the Independent Living Resources Music Collective at a brain injury arts exhibition in 2013 in Portland)
Brandon has always been an artist and performer. He has feared that some parts of having a brain injury would make people turn away from him, yet he maintains wonderful connections to family, friends, and other artists. He lives in a residential facility for other adults who have had severe brain injuries and grows in his independence with each passing year. After having to leave Bible College because of the brain injury, he discovers playing music in church and for church members is a beautiful way to maintain and express his faith.
Thank you so much,
Cheryl and Cynthia
Risks and challenges
We have had amazing community support since we started this film in 2012. It began with a USA Projects fundraising campaign that raised around 150% of our goal. Since then, our network of supporters has grown. A disability film festival in Texas and other venues have already asked to screen the completed documentary. The community arts blog on the film's website has a range of guest bloggers and artists with disabilities, creating a platform for dialogue. Although independent films are not guaranteed distribution, we are extremely confident that interest in and support for this film will continue from within the brain injury community. We are also certain that the film will have a broad appeal outside the brain injury and disability communities. The stories touch on love, loneliness, pain, joy, creativity, intuition, and the ways in which we make sense of our lives in the face of obstacles and how people with brain injuries and our many allies can transform society for more appreciation and equity.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)