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KPCW sends its most discerning moviegoers to the movies each week to let you know which films are worth going to, and which are a pass. The Friday Film Review airs after the Noon News at 12:30PM and during The Local View. KPCW Friday Film Reviewers are: Barb Bretz, Rick Brough, Mark Harrington, Linda Jager.

Friday Film Review--"Crip Camp"


For this week’s Friday Film Review, Libby Wadman takes a look back at “Crip Camp”, one of the most popular and impactful entries at last winter’s Sundance Film Festival, and an Audience Award winner.

If at this point you feel a bit stir crazy and long for something to take you far away from this time, I highly recommend you watch the documentary "Crip Camp". This film was one of the Audience Award winners at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.

"Crip Camp" is essentially a two-part story. Part one takes us to ramshackle Camp Jened for handicapped teens in the Catskills during the summer of 1971, a time when the United States was in turmoil swirling around the Vietnam War, Woodstock was a recent memory, and, unknown to anybody at the time, the seeds of another type of revolution were being planted in the camp. Part two is the even more powerful story of what was born of those seeds.

Camp Jened was a rarity because in the 1970s, handicapped children were often institutionalized in less than human places or made to go to special schools. Integration into the general population was unheard of and unwanted. Camp Jened was a haven for these kids, a new world in a place that was far away from the barriers and discrimination they faced in their hometowns or institutions. It was a place of total freedom and acceptance where everyone was expected to participate in all activities in whatever way they could with everyone pitching in to make it happen. The audience is granted intimate access into this world through video shot that summer, including the opening scene when a rather prophetic camper, Jim LeBrecht, co-director of " Crip Camp", explains, “I’d like to see handicapped people depicted as people.” Through this footage, the audience is able to meet these teens, watch them grow and can realize that no matter the handicap, these kids are people and have the same thoughts, desires, ability to laugh and to contribute as anyone else. As a matter of fact, the group of teens who attended Camp Jened in 1971, developed bonds and a mutual strength that would continue to bring them together later in life as a mighty force that would create what would eventually become the Americans with Disabilities Act.

"Crip Camp", through wonderfully edited archival video footage and more recent interviews with the surviving campers, as well as music of the time, reminds us that everyone has something to offer. That something may not look or sound like what we expect, but if we open our minds and hearts, we will find it. A marvelous lesson for all.

"Crip Camp" is a thoroughly engaging and enlightening hour and 46 minutes in length and is rated R for some language and sexual references. It is available on Netflix and is free to subscribers.

This is Libby Wadman with the Friday film review, reminding you that film is always fun and fascinating, no matter where you watch it.

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