Australian Perspectives ACMI Presents

Defiant Lives

PG Mild themes and brief nudity Scroll to content

“Reframes disability as a human rights issue, rather than showing disabled people as objects of pity.”

Defiant Lives tells the story of the rise and fight of the disability rights movement in the United States, Britain and Australia. The film features exclusive interviews with elders (some now deceased) who lead the movement over the past five decades, and combines this with never before seen archival footage.

The story starts in the institutions where disabled people were routinely imprisoned for life. Once freed, disabled men and women fought for independence and control over their lives. They took on the big charities and criticised the use of celebrities who were used to beg on their behalf. They chained themselves to public transport around the world and demanded access “to boldly go where everyone else has gone before”. They lobbied for support to live ordinary lives in the community with family, lovers and friends.

Defiant Lives is a triumph, full of extraordinary characters who risked their lives to create a better world where everyone, regardless of impairment, is valued and can participate.


The 4pm screening of Defiant Lives on Saturday 24 February celebrates the birthday of comedian and disability trailblazer Stella Young, including a Q&A with the director Sarah Barton, producer Liz Burke and Rosemary Crossley AM, co-author of the game changing book Annie’s Coming Out.

Before the screening, celebrate Stella's birthday at the Disability Pride Dance in Federation Square.

Please note, both sessions will have Open Captions. 

Are you a wheelchair user? Give Tickets and Information a call on 8663 2583 to reserve a space in the cinema.


Defiant Lives: new documentary about disability that's already hit an obstacle.

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