Persons with disabilities (PWDs) have urged film makers across the country and continent at large to stop using able-bodied persons as casts for PWDs roles.
Speaking during Sungura film screening at Mama Grace Onyango Social Center in Kisumu County, lead character Florence Njeri said it was time film makers saw the potential of the PWDs.
“You find that in most cases, a person who can see very well is acting the part of a visually impaired person in a movie, and yet there are visually impaired persons who are good actors,” she narrated.
Njeri noted that if the PWDs can be given the opportunities, they could bring out the characters perfectly well.
“We have potentials, it’s only that many people have opinion on what PWDs are supposed and not supposed to do,” she reiterated.
She further cited that PWDs could easily relate with the roles.
Njeri urged Film Makers to write and produce films that incorporate PWDs, noting that for a long time, there has not been inclusion in the Industry.
“Most film makers do not see us as talented as the able-bodied and yet it is the brain that is working, it is not about the leg, or hand,” noted Njeri.
She said there is need for awareness on Persons With Disabilities in the film industry in order for the film makers and directors to relate with them.
Njeri hopes that with time, the film industry will also have PWD’s artists who act roles of activists, heros and villains, and not as vulnerable casts.
Sungura Film Director and Producer Lydia Matata explained that the film explores barriers PWD’s would face trying to express their sexuality.
The film also highlights issues of inclusivity of PWD’s from societal attitudes to work environment.
“I wanted to make a film that was not stereotipically dark and joyless. I wanted it to be colourful and fun despite centering a person with disability,” Matata said.
According to the director, the film gave an opportunity to first time actors and those who have been in the industry to relate.
“Whether they were first time actors or had acted for 30 years, I wanted to make sure they do have a disability,” she added.
Matata said they were keen in doing the film screening across the counties to learn more from the PWDs and also raise awareness.
“Everytime I show this film, I learn more as a film makers on what I need to do to be more inclusive,” added Matata.
She further called upon film makers to also support story tellers with disabilities to tell their own stories, as there are more stories to be told.
The screening has so far been done in Eldoret, Nakuru and Kisumu.