Screenings and workshops run tomorrow through Sunday
Lisa Bailey

Considered an insurance liability on set in her wheelchair, S. Siobhan McCarthy says she was repeatedly passed over as an actor in favour of able-bodied peers to play a character who has a disability.

Years later, Siobhan is an independent filmmaker who says media arts can be a career track for more individuals who have a disability, thanks to technological advancements and accommodations.

The Wide Angle Media (WAM) Festival, starting tomorrow and co-produced by posAbilities and Kickstart Disability Arts and Culture, presents an opportunity for artists to grow their skills and work, be seen and heard by a wider audience, and advance inclusion in media of people who have a disability.

S. Siobhan McCarthy, festival producer


“We’re really working to change perceptions and perspectives of people with disabilities and their abilities to work in the industry, especially in capacities like screenwriter, content editor or editor,” says Siobhan, who is the producer of WAM — B.C.’s first festival featuring films of all genres and many subjects by people who have a disability.

With organizations like Lights, Camera, Access! advocating for a greater presence of people who have a disability on screen and behind the scenes, Siobhan says “we felt we’re in place in time and in society where (arts and entertainment) is a more lucrative experience and (we should) try to create an international hub of filmmakers and more of a circuit for festivals.”

These entities are important so filmmakers’ work is seen in as many places and by as many people as possible.

With international films and filmmakers participating in WAM, it is “a bona fide film festival,” Siobhan says.

Featuring commissioned shorts, feature-length films and workshops, WAM is attracting not only people interested in arts, entertainment and media but also broadcasters and others in the industry interested in commissioning works.

As well, Siobhan says, five film makers commissioned to create shorts for the festival using production packages now have a demonstration reel or calling card to leverage to make other films.

By these measures, WAM is already a success, Siobhan says.

“Success lies in the opportunities that are already starting to happen as a result of the festival and people’s involvement in the festival,” she says.

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