Imani Barbarin and Matt Curcio, Eastern alumni (Class of ‘13), have joined together to tackle the struggles and triumphs of disability through the documentary feature, Project Able. Imani and Matt, who both have physical disabilities, are going to document day-to-day living that most cannot begin to understand. Curcio states that Project Able is about fulfilling Proverbs 31:8 – “being a voice for the voiceless.” He continues, “Imani and I have struggled through life with our disabilities without much guidance…What does independence mean for me?…When living with a physical disability the question is much deeper, because it directly relates to the individual’s identity and need to be dependent.” Barbarin adds: “…In the current economic climate, things are only going to get harder for people like us, as prospective employers look at our crutches or wheelchairs and see higher health-care costs. For me, in addition to being a beacon of hope for other disabled people, [Project Able] is a journey… as we learn how to be disabled in an abled world.”
Project Able will document Matt and Imani as they journey through post-grad life, as well as include the stories of other people with physical disabilities. The feature will ask why the disabled community has been underrepresented and discriminated against, especially amongst Christian circles. The inspiration for the film began with an epiphany. “I had been in the midst of looking for a job and found myself getting ‘the look’ (the one that says “we are never going to hire you but would like to humor you because you made it here on your crutches and it must have been so hard for you.”)…I wanted to share my life in the hopes that others like me could feel less alone in their circumstances,” Barbarin states. Matt soon jumped on the idea. “Imani reached out to me. She was like, ‘Hey wanna do a doc on being disabled?’ A few days later we got on Skype, chatted and once I saw her passion and how amped I was about the idea, I was 100% on board.”
Project Able is currently in very early stages of development. Curcio and Barbarin are working diligently on raising funds for the cost of making the feature. Primarily, the film is being funded through the website Kickstarter, which helps to gather financial and public support for various projects. These early stages will prove to be tough, as both Curcio and Barbarin are not professional film-makers, but both their interests are in creative writing. As a blogger for one of the world’s largest physical disability advocacy organizations, Curcio has experienced first-hand the overwhelming support for Project Able. “It is so cool to know that what we are doing is original and powerful,” Curcio states, “Our first short film was a huge success as well. It was filmed, edited and composed in less than a week by my friend Robert Jutchenko. It is honestly very impressive work. It shows everyone just how serious we are about this project.”
As for the future after Project Able, Barbarin and Curcio look forward to promoting their cause and feature through travel and meeting with major organization that focus on awareness of the disabled community.
Photo submission by Imani Barbarin