Film screenings, discussions to explore limits placed on people with intellectual disabilities

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Intelligent Lives,” a documentary by award-winning filmmaker Dan Habib, will have its Charlotte premiere Tuesday, March 26, at UNC Charlotte’s Cone University Center.

The film stars three pioneering young American adults with intellectual disabilities—Micah, Naieer and Naomie. They challenge perceptions of intelligence as they navigate high school, college and the workforce. Academy Award-winning actor and narrator Chris Cooper contextualizes the lives of these central characters through the emotional story of his son Jesse.

“People with intellectual disabilities are the most segregated of all Americans,” said New Hampshire-based filmmaker Dan Habib. “Only 17 percent of students with intellectual disabilities are included in regular education. Just 40 percent will graduate from high school. And of the 6.5 million Americans with intellectual disability, barely 15 percent are employed.”

Habib will present the documentary during three screenings on campus. Screenings are free, but registration is required; the documentary showings will be at 10 a.m., 3 p.m., and 7 p.m.

Following the screening, Habib will be joined by a panel of experts for a post-film discussion with the audience.

Panelists are:

  • Aimee Combs, parent educator, Exceptional Children’s Assistance Center
  • William Fitzgerald Jr., self-advocate
  • Allison Hall, peer mentor, InReach, NC (3 to 5 p.m. panel)
  • Patricia Keul, operations manager, Disability:IN North Carolina
  • Laura Newell, office assistant and peer mentor, InReach, NC (7 to 9 p.m. panel)
  • Stephen Powers, police officer, CMPD/Crisis Intervention Team Program for Mecklenburg County
  • Ann Stalnaker, assistant superintendent for programs for exceptional children, CMS

Facilitators will be:

  • Catherine Fowler and David Test, UNC Charlotte’s Cato College of Education, Special Education and Child Development Department
  • Dan Habib, filmmaker, Institute on Disability/UCED, University of New Hampshire

Habib stated he hopes “Intelligent Lives” is a catalyst to transform the label of intellectual disability from a life sentence of isolation into a life of possibility for the most systematically segregated people in America.