Communication and Construction of Monstrous Embodiment
June 15-16, 2012

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Code of the Freaks: forthcoming feature-length documentary

We were quite interested to hear about the upcoming film, Code of the Freaks. The feature-length documentary being developed by a group of film-makers based in Chigago aims to explore the depiction and construction of disability in Hollywood movies. Their website sets out the film as "an irreverent project" seeking to "stimulate critical discussion among diverse movie lovers. Tracing themes of representation from the 1920's to the present, we examine how movie images shape the public's understanding of disabled people":
Production still from Code of Freaks
"Audiences have internalized these coded images. Their narratives are ultimately projected onto disabled people in everyday life. It’s hard to find a disabled person who doesn’t have an absurdly ridiculous story about experiences with total strangers while simply walking down the street. These experiences to a great extent mirror what the public learns about disability through movies.
Our goal is to produce a feature-length documentary that will deconstruct, lampoon, and critique uses of the disabled character in film... Our process involves conducting these discussions with diverse disabled and non-disabled audiences to learn just how images of disability shape the social consciousness of disability."
The project also involves several events, public discussions organised around themes illustrated by Hollywood film montages cut with critical questions. Each month, the project's blog will feature a clip about a selection of films, and a trailer is already available online.

The film will no doubt offer a fascinating exploration into the larger cultural representation of disability as well as the Hollywood depictions, and hopefully will raise some discussion about the mutual influence that the two have on historical and contemporary constructions of disabled bodies. We would be especially interested to consider what role the sensualisation/eroticisation of extraordinary bodies might play in these filmed representations, if at all, and its significance.

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