Saturday, September 9, 2017

"Mizuko Yamaoka takes a different approach in documentary about people with disabilities"

Excerpts from article in The Japan Times, 9/7/17.

Disability presents different challenges for everyone but wheelchair users share a common dilemma: Their mode of locomotion stands out, while they often struggle with social isolation... “The Lost Coin,” [is] a 2016 short by Mizuko Yamaoka, a filmmaker who has been using a wheelchair since a 2002 bicycle accident in Brooklyn left her paralyzed from the waist down.

In contrast to Japanese documentaries that try to win viewer sympathy by portraying people with disabilities as lovable victims — if not candidates for sainthood — this 30-minute film begins with extended point-of-view sequences of the director wheeling through the night streets of Barcelona and attending a party.

Her night out isn’t different from that of anyone else’s except for one crucial difference: She experiences it sitting down. People treat her with courtesy, but she can’t jump into conversations as easily as the other guests because she can’t stand. This, she shows us clearly, if minus the usual explanations, is what life for her is like — including a semi-invisibility those who don’t use wheelchairs may find hard to imagine.

The remainder of the film is devoted to a revealing one-on-one interview with Jelena, a French woman who began using a wheelchair after a fall during a hike with her then-boyfriend. Under Yamaoka’s gentle but pointed questioning she opens up about her break-up with her lover, her sex life and her decision to leave Paris for relatively barrier-free Barcelona.

“The Lost Coin” will begin at 7 p.m. on Sept. 14 at Couzt Cafe and Shop (2-1-11 Yanaka, Taito Ward, doors open at 6:30 p.m.). Mizuko Yamaoka will be on hand to discuss the film with University of Tokyo assistant professor Daisuke Son. Admission with a drink is ¥1,300. For more details about the screening and talk event, visit “The Lost Coin” Facebook page at

Read the whole article:

You can find a trailer here:

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