POV Production & Programming intern, Amanda Brzezowski, reports back from the opening night screening of When I Walk at the Northside Film Festival.
On Monday, June 16th, POV’s 27th season opener, When I Walk, screened at UnionDocs as part of the opening night of Brooklyn’s Northside Film Festival. There was a Q&A after the screening, then an after party to celebrate POV’s 27th season opening. As a POV intern, being a part of the audience on Monday was an incredible experience, as I think we were all were collectively captivated by filmmaker and subject Jason DaSilva’s intimate account of his experience with Multiple Sclerosis.
Jason, along with filmmaking partner and wife, Alice Cook, and executive producer Yael Melamede, participated in a lively post-screening discussion. After developing such a personal connection with Jason throughout the process of watching the film, when he arrived for the Q&A, it felt more like greeting a friend that you’ve known for years rather than for 90 minutes.
One of the most discussed topics was accessibility issues and the AXS Map app, an online tool created by the film team that allows you to rate the accessibility of businesses and venues in your own neighborhood. As Jason and Alice were happy to report, the AXS Map is going strong and continues to grow as individuals and companies come on board to support and add to the map. (Visit www.axsmap.com to rate the accessibility of your neighborhood venues.)
Another audience member asked about the healthcare side of MS, to which Jason responded that he felt there were two approaches he could take to documenting his journey – the medical side, which would detail the insurance issues, providers and financial stress – and the social side, which would follow the emotional and interpersonal impact of the disease. Though Jason captured both sides while filming, he felt that the social side better addressed his personal story and that’s where he ended up focusing the film.
Alice also added that the editing process, particularly the structuring of the film, was challenging. They tried many different methods of piecing together the footage, but it was only when they uncovered what the footage itself “wanted to be” that they were able to piece together the final cut.
When asked about her choice to be involved with When I Walk, Yael Melamede explained that she wanted to be involved in a narrative that exists “outside of the film.” She noted films today have a greater responsibility to society and to life on the other side of the screening room wall. In this way, a film like When I Walk not only provides a window into life with MS, but also incites a desire for viewers to participate in the discussion and action after the film ends.
When I Walk will premieres Monday, June 23rd at 10PM on POV. Check your local listings.