Australian Perspectives ACMI Presents

Defiant Lives

PG Mild themes and brief nudity

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“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.

This vital documentary from Melbourne filmmaker Sarah Barton (Untold Desires, No Limits) brings overdue attention to the fight for equality for people of all abilities.

Additional room will be made available to accommodate nine wheelchairs at both screenings. Please call the ACMI Ticketing and Information counter 03 8663 2583 to reserve one of these spaces.

The screening on Saturday 24 February at 4pm is dedicated to comedian and disability trailblazer Stella Young, on whose birthday it falls. 


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

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