This first in a series of rare screenings and discussion events exploring the experimental filmmaker Stephen Dwoskin’s complex relationships with disability, accessibility, care, illness, and sexuality.
First shown on the launch night of Channel 4’s ‘Disabling World’ season in 1992, Face of Our Fear is an essay film about media representations of disability from antiquity to the modern era. Far from being a standard documentary, it is peppered with personal touches, surreal scenes, and echoes of Dwoskin’s underground films.
Dwoskin did not want to be regarded as ‘a disabled filmmaker’, complaining to one interviewer that ‘everyone began starting their articles about me, announcing the fact, “He got polio in 1948 at the age of ten,” even friends do it’. This tension is present throughout Face of Our Fear, which he saw as a film about stigmatization.
The film also probes the social model of disability: the cultural narratives that pinion disabled people as victims, villains, freaks, and monsters, and the ableist and disabling built and social environments that become sites of daily negotiation. The overall result is incisive and polemical, accessible and witty.
The event will begin with an introduction and communal viewing of Face of Our Fear at 7pm on Friday 5 March, followed by a discussion on accessibility, interdependence, and care from 8pm, featuring David Ruebain and Yates Norton, and chaired by Jenny Chamarette.
Face of Our Fear has closed captions, and the live discussion will be BSL-interpreted and live-captioned. The discussion will last no longer than 60 minutes. The film will be made available by the LUX for a week after the event.
This event is co-hosted by the LUX and the Centre for Film Aesthetics and Cultures (CFAC) at the University of Reading, and supported by the Arts Committee and the Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives Fund of the University of Reading.
Jenny Chamarette is a writer, scholar and curator, and Senior Research Fellow at Reading School of Art. She is Co-Investigator on the AHRC-funded project, The Legacies of Stephen Dwoskin.
David Ruebain is Chief Executive of the Conservatoire for Dance and Drama. Prior to that he had been Chief Executive of Equality Challenge Unit, a policy and research agency funded to advance equality & diversity in the UK further and higher education and research sectors. Before that, he was a practicing solicitor for 21 years; latterly as Director of Legal Policy at the Equality and Human Rights Commission of Great Britain following a career in private practice. David is also a Visiting Professor of Law at Birkbeck University of London.
Yates Norton is currently a curator at DRAF, London. Previously, he was curator at Rupert, a publicly funded centre for art, residencies and education, located in Vilnius, Lithuania. There he directed Rupert’s 2020 events programme on Interdependence and Care. He studied at the University of Cambridge, Harvard University and the Courtauld Institute of Art, and his artistic practice includes collaborations with poets and artists in London, Cambridge and New York. He has spoken widely on subjects of interdependence and disability at the ICA, London and other contemporary arts venues.