Reid Davenport directs ‘I Didn’t See You There’.
Spurred by the spectacle of a circus tent that goes up outside his apartment, a disabled filmmaker examines the history of disability and their invisibility in the public eye.
Words from Reid below.
In regards to the theme of visibility, can you elaborate on some of the ways this informed your approach?
I wanted to push back against spectacle and share my perspective rather than my body.
There are the more obvious ways that the theme of visibility informed my approach: capturing people gawking at me and the exploration of the Freak Show. Then there are the more subtle, not showing my face being the most prevalent. I wanted to push back against spectacle and share my perspective rather than my body. When disabled people are seen, they are not heard, so I did the opposite.
Are there any filmmakers, or past works, that have been particularly influential for you?
The three most influential works for me making ‘I Didn’t See You There’ were RaMell Moss’s ‘Hale County This Morning, This Evening’ (2018), Kirsten Johnson’s ‘Cameraperson’ (2016) and Chantal Ackerman’s ‘News From Home’ (1977). I drew upon their formalism and nuances.
Throughout my career, Marlon Riggs has been my biggest influence. I used to have trepidation about only making films about disability. But when I think of Riggs and the works he made from within his own community, I am motivated to keep telling disabled stories.
Can you talk about some of the ways you made the film’s release more accessible to audiences?
When exploring venues to screen the film, we look for five things: wheelchair access to theater, wheelchair accessible restrooms, closed caption capabilities, closed audio description capabilities and, if there is a post-screening discussion, a sign language interpreter. My team and I believe every screening of every film should meet these minimum requirements. We also ensure that wherever the film is streaming online, closed captions and audio descriptions are available.
What are you reading at the moment?
Alice Wong’s ‘Year of the Tiger’.
- Keith Wilson