SVA Film & Animation

After School Special: Ben Duffy


Tuesday 9/12/17

7:00PM Disability & Visibility

An evening dedicated to bringing visibility to the disability community.  The Blind, Seen (2016) is the autobiographical story of photographer David Snider (BFA 1992 Photography) and his blind parents.  Anelisa Garfunkel’s (MFA 2016 Visual Narrative) We Will Ride (2016), being given its theatrical premiere, follows disabled riders fighting for public transportation improvements in Boston.  Finally, the NYC premiere of the feature documentary Tin Soldiers (2015), by Ben Duffy (Film and Video) & Michael J. Sassano (BFA 2011 Film and Video), highlights members of the adaptive sports community.  Click here to RSVP.

SVA film ’14, Ben Duffy’s latest  film is about people who do adaptive sports, which means adapting to extreme physical issues. It makes you proud to be a human being. When was the last time you felt that way? It’s also meant to inspire anyone with something to overcome. 

A fan of my first feature length film connected me with an amputee skateboarder, Matt Hawkins, who had the idea to develop a short documentary about adaptive skateboarders. The beautiful thing was that it turned into something so much bigger than the 10 minute short we originally envisioned.

Executive producer, Jeff Bourns, heard from Matt that we were doing the film. Jeff introduced us to Zack Ruhl, Quinn Waitley, and Abel Rose.  Suddenly, the short film turned into a feature. Meeting Alana Nichols (3 time Paralympic Gold medalist) was the pinnacle — because of her amazing story.

All along we were driven to make a film that would finally give people an opportunity see what we saw: the incredible character and dignity of adaptive sports athletes. They are courageous people who get through life with a positive mindset, and inspire people without disabilities with their ferocious tenacity.

One can quickly see that the people in Tin Soldiers, have lost something major – perhaps function or limbs. But they demand our interest because they have decided not only to overcome what they’ve lost, but to go much father. They achieve much more than anyone ever thinks they can. They have become truly great athletes by any measure, and inspire everyone who knows them or even knows about them. The people in this film are amazing!

Tin Soldiers is not just for people who have lost limbs. I believe that we all go through situations in life where we’ve lost something we feel we can’t live without. At that time, we can make one of two decisions: Either become depressed and stay depressed, or determine to be an overcomer.

I want people to use this film to help overcome any hardship that they may be experiencing. People in rehab centers who’ve experienced terrible tragedies  – accidents, cancer, strokes – and worry about how they’ll function. Anyone wondering how they’ll get through this world being in a wheelchair. We want them to believe that not only will they make it, but they can make it, and become more successful than they were before – just like the people in our film.

Filed Under: Alumni Blog