After seeing an advertisement for the 8th Annual Garden State Film Festival on Twitter, I requested a press pass, thinking I might screen an inspiring film or two that I could recommend to Her.meneutics readers. The festival director suggested Newt Gingrich's Rediscovering God in America, which I saw and appreciated, but not nearly as much as two other films. Both reminded me that seeing the world through another person's eyes is often the route to both empathy and greater self-awareness.
Shooting Beauty introduces viewers to a community of people with cerebral palsy, first through the eyes of an aspiring fashion photographer whose career is diverted as she teaches them how to take pictures, and then through their own and each other's eyes. The second, Dark Light: The Art of Blind Photographers, defies logic as it highlights the stunning art and unique vision of some of the world's leading blind photographers. Yes, that's right, blind photographers. And no, I didn't believe it either until I saw their work and their processes for myself. Both films tell their stories without either pity or sanctimony. This is a significant accomplishment for filmmakers who don't travel through life in the dark or by wheelchair.
Shooting Beauty opens with the first person story of Courtney Bent. She initially visits a cerebral palsy day program to photograph its severely disabled clients, but soon discovers that her own limited perspective distorts the images she creates.
She decides to equip the clients with cameras of their own. In this way, they can communicate to others what the world looks like from their vantage point—one that often shows up in their photographs as a witty, tender, waist-high one. This is no easy feat for Bent, as ...1
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