Tag Archives: rights

VIFF 2019 Review: When We Walk

jason-dasilva

When We Walk mostly continues off from When I Walk ended. It starts with the creation of a family, but an eventual end to a marriage, and a life whose years appear numbered.

Many of you remember that I saw When I Walk. When We Walk appears to be the sequel, but it’s a lot more.

The first images we see are images of 1988 when a ten year-old Jason Da Silva is operating a videocamera for the first time and you hear his father instructing him how to use it. Then you hear Jason’s voiceover, but it’s not to us. It’s to his son Jase. You notice Jason’s voice is getting weaker.

The film then goes on to what has happened since When I Walk ended. When I Walk made its debut during Sundance 2013. On February 7, 2013, Jason Da Silva Jr. (nicknamed ‘Jase’) was born. It seemed like Jason’s dream is coming true and Jason, Alice and Jase were ready to be their own all-American family in their home in New York City.

Throughout the film, we see time is always the deciding factor and sometimes time cannot be kind. First off Jason’s MS has worsened to the point he needs 24-hour assistance. When he goes places with Jase, he can’t always follow up because there are many places and park paths people in wheelchairs can’t go. On top of it, Alice is feeling the burnout. 50% of marriages to a person with a disability fail because the fully-able partner gets burnout. Alice is obviously feeling it and the strain in their marriage can be noticed. In addition, Alice has more of a desire to live in Austin, Texas.

Jason tries to make it work by seeing if he can move to Texas. However New York is one of the best states in helping people with disabilities while Texas is one of the worst. Jason can live a normal life in his apartment in NYC with nurses coming to visit him and even do filmwork. In Texas, the most that Jason could get is being confined to a nursing home. Surrounding states are not much better, if any better at all. It becomes clear Jase is better off living with Alice in Texas and Jason in NYC.

Jason tries talking to Jase through Skype. Jase welcomes it at first, but Jase becomes unhappy to the point where he throws the camera. Jason is determined to see Jase more and flies out to Texas once every two weeks. However all the flights are proving to take a physical toll on him.

Jason tries to get the legal system to work for him by having Jase fly out from Texas more to see him. In the meantime, his physical condition worsens so much, he can no longer use his hands. He’s now a quadriplegic. Anytime, the next move will be he will lose his voice and then the next move is Jason will die. Jason tries to adjust to his quadriplegia by getting a new wheelchair and his assistants learning how to handle him. Jason tries to learn new ways of making his films. Then a court ruling happens. The New York family courts decide Jase can make visits once every two weeks to New York. Jason’s at the airport to greet him and Alice each time and their able to spend their quality time together. The film ends with Jason wrapping up the film as if he was wrapping up a letter to Jase. Also leaving the hint that the next film coming is When They Walk.

For those that saw When I Walk, they would have gotten a sense that there would be a continuation. First Alice was asked about being married to a person with a disability. As she answered, she talked of the fear of his worsening condition and breaks down. The film ended with the ultrasound of the successful pregnancy. When We Walk is a continuation. It’s not a sequel, but a new chapter. When I Walk gets released to a lot of acclaim and even an Emmy win. Jase is born. The dream of having his own family is true for only a few years. We see a marriage fall apart. We see Jason’s physical condition get worse. We she Jason try to make the efforts to see Jase as often as they can, even though they live halfway across the U.S. We see Jason reassess his own life and also what kind of husband he was to Alice. We see Jason reach out to his family and to his parents who both live in different cities. We see how others with disabilities struggle in different states. The film is a very telling story about a man with a disability, a family struggling to be together, and a race against time.

The film is also an eye-opener. The film shows the audience what it’s like not just to have a disability but a disability that is taking more and more of a toll on a person. We see as Jason is becoming more and more helpless. Jason even fills in the details of the physical declines that are yet to come. Nevertheless, he’s making the effort to keep his filmmaking skills going. He’s also making the effort to live a better more respectful quality of life by living in NYC. We are made aware just how being a person with a disability state by state can be worlds apart, especially for someone like Jason. We hear from those in Texas of how people with disabilities that are even more able than Jason are denied the type of quality of life Jason is getting. Hearing what the disabled in Texas have to say about what they’re denied adds to the film.

The film is not just a voice of one with a disability, or of many with disabilities. It’s also an intimate letter to his son Jase. Jason knows of his condition and how it will slowly degenerate his body over time. We even see how Jason goes from a paraplegic around the time of Jase’s birth to a quadriplegic around Jase’s fifth birthday. Jason makes clear his voice will be the next to go and then he will die. His condition of MS is a case of him dying slowly and slowly. Jason wants to make it like a letter to Jase if he dies before Jase is ever able to know him. You can understand why Jason narrates the film like a letter to Jase instead of narrated it in basic fashion. We the viewer also grow in knowledge to this letter. We understand Jason’s plight. Also we learn of his secret heartache. It makes pure sense Jason did this film this way.

Also we’re made aware that his next film will be When They Walk. It leaves those of us who know the story eager to see it when it comes out. Also it makes us nervous because we anticipate that this will be Jason da Silva’s last work ever.

When We Walk can be seen as one of many things. It can be seen as a glimpse of life played out, Jason’s personal message to his son, a sequel to When I Walk, a message of advocacy, or even a story about one finding the will to live despite all that is happening. One thing I see it as is a film that gives a voice to those that rarely get heard. I’m glad he does this.

BONUS: Many of you saw the website where Jason contributes. That being the site letting people with disabilities input to places, restaurants and buildings informing if they’re disability-friendly or not. The site is AXSMap. If you have a disability and you would like to contribute to the site, click here.

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South Sudan: The World’s Newest Nation

Hi. This is an article that I have delayed posting here for the longest time. Hope you like it.

It was declared on July 9, 2011. South Sudan was now an official independent nation of its own. Its population is an estimated 8,000,000. The capital city is Juba, a city of an estimated 400,000 people. Hearing about what the people of South Sudan went through, you’d feel their independence from the main Sudan was hard-earned.

Map of Sudan and regions. Area declared South Sudan is in red.

Firstly Sudan was originally a joint condominium between Britain and Egypt until they declared independence in 1956 as the Republic of Sudan. Despite Sudan being independent, it was not unified. The northern and southern parts of Sudan were sharply divided.  The main divide between the two was based on ethnicity but also about religion; the northern part of Sudan was predominantly Muslim while the southern part of Sudan had a Christian majority. Conflict between Northern Sudan and Southern Sudan had already existed for a year and would continue until 1972. That war would be known as the First Sudanese Civil War. Half a million people were killed. It would take an agreement in Ethiopia in March 1972, known as the Addis Ababa Agreement, that would end that civil war. The goal of the Agreement was to address and appease concerns of the southern Sudan liberation and succession movement. This would help to give some autonomy to the Southern Sudanese region and would give peace to Sudan for almost a decade.

The one thing the Agreement failed to do is dispel the tensions that caused the first Sudanese Civil War. Then in 1983, Sudan’s President Gafar Nimeiry declared all Sudan an Islamic state, The Southern Sudan Autonomous Region was abolished on June 5, 1983 and the Addis Ababa Agreement was ended. This would lead to the Second Sudanese Civil War. This war would last from 1983 to 2005 and would have one of the highest civilian death tolls since World War II. Two million people were killed as a result of the warfare, famine and disease caused by the conflict. Four million people from Southern Sudan have been displaced during the times of the war. At the start of that war, the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement was formed as both a rebel group and a political party in response to the crises.

The war finally ended in January 2005 after a comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed. The purpose of the agreement, known as the Naivasha Agreement, was to develop democratic governance countrywide and share oil revenues. It further set a timetable by which Southern Sudan would have a referendum on its independence. The referendum happened during the week of January 9-15, 2011. Almost 99% of South Sudanese voted for independence. Independence was declared on July 9, 2011 and the United Nations recognized South Sudan’s independence on July 14th.

Despite being the world’s newest nation, South Sudan still faces problems and challenges in the time ahead. One problem is that the famine that is occurring mostly in Somalia also includes South Sudan and other nations. Another problem is that conflict between Sudan arose again a month ago with the South Kordofan conflict that still exists today. Another problem is of possible intertribal enmity within the country. One challenge South Sudan will have to face in the future is organizing the nation and its rights amongst the people. It is currently on a human rights watch by the UN, and rightly so. The SPLA may have been able to get South Sudan its independence but is also known for human rights atrocities of their own. Even the CIA has suspected of genocide in southern Sudan last year. One thing the elected President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit, has promised is respect to freedom of religion. Kiir himself is Catholic with a Muslim son.

South Sudan: the world’s newest nation. Will it be a better, wealthier, more developed, more just country that Sudan was and still is? Or will it have its own problems or atrocities? Only time will tell.

WORKS CITED

WIKIPEDIA: South Sudan. Wikipedia.com. 2011. Wikimedia Foundation Inc. < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Sudan >

IMAGE CITED

WIKIMEDIA: Regions Of Sudan. Wikimedia.com. 2011. Wikimedia Foundation Inc. <http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Regions_of_Sudan.png&gt;