Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution

  • 11 Apr - 17 Apr, 2020
  • Mag The Weekly

An incredible documentary, stream!

In Crip Camp, the revolution begins at summer camp. The Netflix documentary, now available to stream, follows several young people who attended Camp Jened, a New York campground for people with disabilities. That alone is a wonderful subject: a story about what happens when a group of teens neglected by society finally discovers a place where they are treated as complete, whole people. But Crip Camp is a story about how a camp changed a group of teenagers’ lives becomes a story about how the country was changed for the better. Directed by Nicole Newnham and Jim Lebrecht – the latter attended Camp Jened, and his story serves as one of Crip Camp’s focal points – the film begins in 1971 with Lebrecht and others attending the camp for the first time. Remarkably, the people at Camp Jened had a camera running and regularly interviewed the campers about everything: how they’re treated by the outside world, the privacy they long for that they are not afforded, the crushes they have. This is juxtaposed with interview footage where attendees also reflect on that time in a place where they spoke with their own voices about their own desires and were listened to. Calling it a feel-good movie feels contrary to its purpose, even as it is tremendously inspiring.

It’s more of a reminder that something that seems impossible can be done; it just takes an immense, downright unfair amount of work to will it into existence and support from others who may not be impacted but benefit from a more equitable society because everyone does.

Crip Camp is refreshingly honest about the social change it chronicles, noting that laws are frequently undercut and only remain effective as long as the populace is vigilant.

– Compilation