No one at Camp Jened could’ve imagined that those summers in the woods together would be the beginnings of a revolution. Directors Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht deliver a rousing film about a group of campers turned activists who shaped the future of the disability-rights movement, and changed accessibility legislation for everyone.
Just down the road from Woodstock, Camp Jened was a camp for disabled teens. Filled with the spirit, music, and humor of the era, Newnham and LeBrecht ‘s film speaks to the seeds of empowerment that were planted at Camp Jened. Incredible camp footage from 1971 captures how the campers were finally seen beyond their disabilities. Milestones in the disability-rights movement intersect with LeBrecht’s personal story and the stories of several Camp Jened alums, including then-counselor Judy Heumann. Heumann goes on to drive the effort for disability rights, playing an indispensable role in historic protests leading to the Americans with Disabilities Act. Crip Camp shines a bright light on a paramount and overlooked civil-rights battle, emboldening the disability community to come together and spark great change.
Crip Camp acquires breadth and seriousness that neither its early scenes nor its playfully confrontational title suggest. As we follow erstwhile campers into direct actions, occupations and unsparing encounters with government officials, the film’s approach remains anecdotal and emotional – but what anecdotes, and what emotion! Footage of a twenty-something Judy Heumann reproaching Eugene Eidenberg from the US Department of Health for piously nodding his head as she articulates once more the protestors’ unheeded demands feels iconic: a masterclass in focused, righteous rage. Heumann, who would go on to advise Presidents Clinton and Obama on disability rights, is a figure of awe-inspiring charisma and determination.
Crip Camp opened the Sundance Film Festival and took home the coveted Audience Award this year. Crip Camp leads this year’s Critics’ Choice Awards with five nominations: Best Documentary Feature, Best Director, Best Editing, Best Archival Documentary, and Best Historical/Biographical Documentary. Judith Heumann also received a special honor for Most Compelling Living Subject of a Documentary.
Produced by Barack and Michelle Obama under their production company “Higher Ground”, Crip Camp is available on Netflix, or free on YouTube. Watch at your convenience.
Join us on January 7 from 5-6 pm when we are presenting a free moderated discussion followed by a Q and A with co-directors Jim LeBrecht (who is in the film) and Nicole Newnham, on Zoom.
For more information: Julie at 510 599-9227 or firstname.lastname@example.org