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Icarus Film
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From the Fanlight Collection
Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O'Brien
Directed by Jessica Yu
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ACADEMY AWARD WINNER! According to Mark O'Brien, "The two mythologies about disabled people break down to one: we can't do anything, or two: we can do everything. But the truth is, we're just human." O'Brien was a frequently published journalist and poet, and a contributor to National Public Radio. He contracted polio in childhood and, due to post-polio syndrome, spent much of his life in an iron lung. Yet for more than forty years, he fought against illness, bureaucracy and society's conflicting perceptions of disability for his right to lead an independent life.

Breathing Lessons breaks down barriers to understanding by presenting an honest and intimate portrait of a complex, intelligent, beautiful and interesting person, who happens to be disabled. Incorporating the vivid imagery of O'Brien's poetry, and his candid, wry and often profound reflections on work, sex, death and God, this provocative film asks: what makes a life worth living? OPEN-CAPTIONED

"Editor's Choice. An excellent portrait that teaches about humanity. Highly recommended." —Video Librarian

"An exceptional, clear-eyed revelation of the realities of one man's life an spirit." —Booklist

"The range of human emotion is portrayed with such integrity it does not allow for a hint of mawkishness. Funny, poignant, sincere, and powerful." —MC Journal

"Extraordinary! The poetic and powerful narrative leave one to ponder even deeper the power of such individuals to have a profound impact on the rest of the human race." —Joseph E. Havranek, EdD, CRC, Bowling Green State University

Academy Award, Short Documentary
Golden Gate Award, San Francisco International
Featured at Sundance Film Festival
Special Apple, National Educational Media Network
DoubleTake Documentary Film Festival
Rehabilitation International Film Festival
Columbus International Film Festival
Museum of Fine Arts Boston
American Psychiatric Association Conference
National Association of Qualified Developmental Disability Professionals (NAQ) Conference
...and more than two dozen other festivals and conferences worldwide

35 minutes / color
Copyright: 1996
Sale: $225

Subject areas:
Access, Rights & Realities, Disabilities, Disabilities & the Arts, Fanlight Collection

Related Titles:
Lest We Forget: Silent Voices: Documenting the least-known part of the civil rights movement, these are the first-person stories of people with developmental disabilities — labeled "mentally defective" — who were sent away to state institutions.

Front Wards, Back Wards: They were called idiots and for 160 years Fernald State School was where they would stay. Residents, staff and families recall the evolution of attitudes toward people with developmental disabilities.

Latest News from the Cosmos: It wasn't until Hélène was 20 years old that her parents discovered that their autistic daughter was able to not only communicate, but to write deeply complex, philosophical and poetic work.

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