I must confess that when I think of indie distributor Uncork'd Entertainment, I tend to think of the indie horror scene, a scene that has truly blossomed with the growth of the digital age.
So, you can imagine my surprise when I received the indie doc Do You Dream in Color?, a 74-minute documentary co-directed by Abigail Fuller and Sarah Ivy picked up by Uncork'd for a February 10th, 2017 VOD release to be followed by a limited theatrical release. Guaranteed to be one of early 2017's "feel good" docs, Do You Dream in Color? follows the stories of Connor, Nick, Sarah, and Carina, four high school students with big dreams and one similar obstacle - they just so happen to be visually impaired.
Connor is a kick-ass skateboarder who dreams of attracting a sponsor.
Sarah wants to travel and, specifically, has an immediate goal of traveling to Portugal in an high school immersion program during her senior year.
Nick is in a band and wants to be a rock n' roll star.
Carina, in perhaps the film's most poignant storyline, dreams of becoming the first person in her family to graduate from high school.
While Do You Dream in Color? is what I would call a "feel good" doc, Fuller and Ivy for the most part avoid the feeling of "inspiration porn," a term coined by some in the disability community for those media pieces that serve up disability as inherently inspirational - folks being deemed inspirational for doing what everyone else already does. While one could certainly argue that many people, for example, graduate high school, Fuller and Ivy do a wonderful job of allowing Carina to tell her own story and present the incredibly harsh realities, or what I'd call a godawful school system, that Carina must face if she is to achieve her dream.
Do You Dream in Color? doesn't hesitate to show the institutional and social challenges faced by those who are blind living in a world where most people are not. If you've worked with or lived with disability in your life, especially visual impairment, Do You Dream in Color? will both inspire you and make you angry.
Sarah, for example, is a delightful young woman with remarkable independent living skills whose original vision is damn near dismissed by those those processing her application. Oh sure, in their eyes they're likely being practical and even considerate. But, the way that it's all handled is horrid and demeaning and dismissive and, quite frankly, common for those living with disabilities.
The same is very much true for Carina, who falls behind on her school work largely due to a combination of absences and the school's complete and utter failure to provide her what they are legally obligated to provide her under IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Educational Act). While Carina eventually gains the help of a legal advocate, in some ways it's an advocate she should have had years earlier. Again, these kinds of situations are common for those who don't know the system well.
While Fuller and Ivy portray the systemic challenges well, they also do a wonderful job of portraying the positives within the system and within the realm of community. For example, Do You Dream in Color? may very well make you fall in love with the skateboarding community and Hot Topic, the latter being where the band Nick is in lands a 30 minute gig. Even Sarah, despite certain disappointments that won't be expanded upon in this review, benefits greatly from living in a smaller town that loves her and she loves them.
As a film critic with a disability, I'm a paraplegic/double amputee with spina bifida, I was prepared to resist Do You Dream in Color? yet I found myself won over by its winning young people and Fuller and Ivy's balanced portrayal of the joys and occasional sorrows of growing up with a visual impairment. In a world that continues to offer up so many obstacles that some would consider insurmountable, you will be both entertained and inspired by the hopeful and determined spirits of Connor, Nick, Sarah and Carina. For more information on the film and to be informed on details as they become available regarding distribution, visit the Uncork'd Entertainment website linked to in the credits.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic