A few weeks ago, the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) screened a documentary that I wish everyone could see called When I Walk by Jason DaSilva, a graduate of Emily Carr University of Art & Design, right here in Vancouver.
Jason is a young filmmaker who decided to turn his camera on himself to document his transformation from able-bodied to a person living with a disability. It is a stunning piece of work.
In the first few minutes of the film, you see how totally by accident Jason captured the first real sign that something was terribly wrong with his body. He’s standing on a sandy beach while on vacation and falls down and then no matter how hard he struggles, cannot stand up. His friends come to help get him upright again but once they let go, Jason immediately crumples to the ground again. Stunned, my friend (who has MS) and I turned to one another and mouthed the word “WOW!” at each other. I cannot adequately express how deeply this opening sequence impacted us, knowing what we know about demyelinating diseases.
What follows is the chronicling of Jason’s diagnosis with Primary Progressive MS, his struggles with mobility, his deteriorating vision and the limitations of living in a largely inaccessible city. There are so many beautiful, heartbreaking, funny and hopeful layers to this film. I don’t want to tell you anything more than that because really, you need to experience it for yourself.
Jason was present at the VIFF screening and did a Q & A afterwards. He said that after November, When I Walk will be available to view online and next year it will air on PBS. I recommend visiting his website and signing up for his newsletter so you’ll be notified when those things happen.
In the meantime, view the trailer for When I Walk. Even this short glimpse of the film will give you a sense of the raw honesty of his story and why When I Walk won the VIFF’s “Most Popular Canadian Documentary” award.