Music & Clowns

My brother, Jamie, has a profound learning disability. Despite being close to nonverbal, he demonstrates charisma, a sharp sense of humour, and emotional sensitivity. I team up with my parents to discuss what it is like caring for someone with…

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My brother, Jamie, has a profound learning disability. Despite being close to nonverbal, he demonstrates charisma, a sharp sense of humour, and emotional sensitivity. I team up with my parents to discuss what it is like caring for someone with Down syndrome. We piece together fragments of insight to gain a sense of his inner life, but our differing perspectives reveal as much about our own subjectivity as they do Jamie’s.

We rarely see portrayals of the diverse, ordinary lives of people who have Down syndrome (unless we are connected to someone who has it). Much of what we hear instead is based off a medical narrative. As prenatal screening tests improve, the birth rate of people with Downs has fallen. I believe people should be able to base life-changing decisions on accurate information. But I also feel that a diagnosis does not reflect my brother’s human worth. This film attempts to complement the medical narrative with first-hand stories of what it is like to have someone with Down syndrome in your family. Jamie has enriched our lives and I believe a society can be measured by its capacity to nurture those who are most vulnerable.

Awards:
British Animation Awards, 2018-2020, UK – Best Post Graduate Animation
Royal Television Society Student Television Awards 2019, UK – Jury Prize for Best British Student Film
Royal Television Society Student Television Awards 2019, UK – Best Postgraduate Animation
Spark Animation 2018, Canada – winner of the Women In Animation’s diversity award
San Francisco Independent Film Festival 2019, USA – Audience Award for Best Animation
British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies Awards, 2020, UK: Runner -Up Essay/Experimental (Best Practice Research Portfolio)
NAHEMI Eat Our Shorts Awards, 2019, UK winner ARRI best film
NAHEMI Eat Our Shorts Awards, 2019, UK winner Audience Award.
Papaya Rocks International Film Festival, 2019, UK – winner best director
London International Animation Festival 2018, UK – Jury: Highly Commended
Cinanima 2018, Portugal – special mention for Best Student Film Gaston Roch Award

Nominations:
NYC Independent Film Festival, USA – Nominated best animation
British Independent Film Festival, 2019, UK – Best British Short (long list)

Official Selection:
DOC NYC 2018, USA
Factual Animation Film Festival 2018, UK
L’Alternativa 2018, Spain
Flatpack Film Festival 2019, UK
Edinburgh International Film Festival 2019, UK
Human Rights Arts & Film Festival 2019, Australia
Stuttgart international Animation festival 2019, Germany
Cardiff Animation Nights 2018, UK
Encounters 2019, UK
Aesthetica Short Film Festival, 2019, UK.
PÖFF 2019, Estonia
British Shorts in Berlin 2020, Germany
Underexposed Film Festival 2020, US

Directed and produced: Alex Widdowson

Featuring: Jamie Widdowson, Anna Widdowson, David Widdowson and Alex Widdowson

Animation: Alex Widdowson and Emily Downe

Animation Assistance: Ali Aschman, Emily Downe, Claudia Ortega Arus, Tanaka Tiriboyi, Silvia de Tommaso, Daniele Piscitello, Anna Smirnova and Frederikke Frydenlund

Sound: Vicky Freund and Adam Jones
Original music: Vicky Freund
Sound mix: Adam Jones

Score: ‘Not On The Bus’ U.S.Army Blues Band (cc) 2010

Archival Footage:’Child Care and Parenthood 4′: BBC World Wide © 1986

Licensed by The New York Times Op-Docs
Senior Series Producer: Lindsay Crouse
Supervising Editors: Andrew Blackwell and Regina Sobel
Associate Producer: Yvonne Ashley Kouadjo
Executive Producer: Adam Ellick

Production Support: The New York Times Op-Docs, The Elf Factory and Royal College of Art

Thank you: Daniel Saul, Sylvie Bringas, Ed Foster, Tony Fish, Birgitta Hosea and Teal Triggs

Alex Widdowson © 2018 – 2020

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