You can find all sorts of movie lists out there: The Top 10 Westerns, The Best Movies About Sports, Movies You Have To See About ____ (fill in the blank), and so on.
Here is yet another list–13 key movies about various disabilities and how they affect and change lives. Either I have seen these films or they were recommended to me. In no particular order:
the ataxian (2015)
This movie is the real-life account of a cyclist with Friedreich’s Ataxia and his life-changing cross-country bike ride to bring attention to Ataxia. He shares his unbreakable spirit to show us that life is about how we react. Starring Kyle Bryant.
A new young neurologist finds a solution in L-dopa for his patients who have a rare aspect of Parkinson’s Disease. Until his arrival, a group of long-term patients in a state institution haven’t responded or moved for years, with no hope. Starring Robert De Niro and Robin Williams!
rain man (1998)
Starring Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise, we learn about a man who is an Autistic savant: his mannerisms, his view on life, and his new relationship with his brother. This acclaimed American road drama won Best Picture.
1 litre of tears (1995)
This is a Japanese movie about a teenager with Spinocerebellar Ataxia and her daily struggles in life and with her family. It’s a gripping story based on her diary entries–very difficult to find but well worth it.
lorenzo’s oil (1993)
A boy has a degenerative brain disease called Adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD). Seeking answers and a cure, his parents devotedly learn, research, and do their own drug development. Starring Susan Sarandon and Nick Nolte.
A UK drama about a woman diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s Disease and a boy she meets active in parkour. At first, she is in denial but learns to face her life. This award-winning film means to support all those living with a chronic condition and inform. Funded by Kickstarter.
still alice (2014)
A mother and college professor is confronted with her diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease. She struggles with recall and being herself as she navigates life and family. It won an Oscar and stars Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, and Kristen Stewart.
a sense of self (2016)
An Australian TV journalist chronicles her debilitation from Parkinson’s Disease in this gripping movie. It’s a candid look at her disease, crippling pain and panic attacks. She chronicles her life, the hardest news story she’s ever done. Starring Liz Jackson.
a theory of everything (2015)
A British astrophysicist, Stephen Hawking, a rising and accomplished young man, is struck with Motor Neuron Disease (MND)/Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). It tells of his work, his home life, and his abilities despite a grim future. Despite the odds, he becomes a brilliant, world-renowned scientist. Starring Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones.
crip camp (2020)
A group of disabled youths meet at a summer camp. The movie follows them on their journey to fight and become advocates in a disability rights movement. Produced by Barack and Michelle Obama.
the iron lady (2011)
This is an Oscar-winning biopic of Margaret Thatcher, the former prominent and powerful Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. In her later years, she battled with dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. Starring Meryl Streep and Jim Broadbent.
This Sundance Film Festival-acclaimed movie follows a young girl, a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults), who pursues singing, baffling her family. It tells of family relationships and what life has in store as she finds her voice. It’s all subtitled. Starring Marlee Matlin and Emilia Jones.
never steady, never still (2017)
A Canadian drama about a mother who struggles with Parkinson’s Disease, especially when her husband and caregiver dies and leaves her alone to deal with her disease and raising her kids.
I hope these movies spark interest in the world of disabilities. Watch these and learn about the personal stories of disabled persons. See the variety of movies today on the movie screen and at film festivals such as the Sundance Film Festival, the ReelAbilities Film Festival, and the Neuro Film Festival, to name a few. I also hope that you, the reader and viewer, have your own favourite movies about disability—please share and tell us your movie recommendations!
Take advantage of what Hope for Ataxia offers through its Global Ataxia Support Groups. Send us any questions and comments!