360° View of Sexuality in Wheelchair
The film “4 Feet: Blind Date” breaks the taboos on disability and sexuality
Sexuality is one of the most difficult topics to talk about openly. And it could even be more challenging among teenagers and people with disabilities. Or…is it?
Last year, a film production team from Argentina made a short film called “4 Feet: Blind Date” to break the taboos. They told a story about a young girl in a power wheelchair and her sexual desire.
Breaking taboos: disability and sexuality
The idea of making “4 Feet: Blind Date” came up after Ezequiel Lenardón, the creative producer of the film, attended a TED talk by Rosario Perazolo Masjoan. Rosario uses a wheelchair and is a disability-rights activist. In her TED talk, she shared how disability is understood by people, by society, and their prejudices. Like many others, she is disappointed by how society, government and laws have failed to recognise and treat people with disabilities as equals.
She also shared in an interview with Teen Vogue, a teenage fashion and lifestyle magazine,
“For my experience growing up as a disabled person, I had so many questions that I couldn’t answer because all my friends and the internet have so many different experiences than me.”
Impressed by Rosario’s points of view, Ezequiel reached out to her for collaboration: making a film based on her personal experiences to de-dramatize disability. Later, Rosario suggested including sexuality as a second theme of the film. Eventually, they came up with a fictional story around a girl called Juana who is anxious to explore her sexuality through a blind date with a guy she has met on social media.
By bringing together two common taboos in society, disability and sexuality, the production team hoped that the film could spark questions, encourage discussions and provoke change in false perceptions of disability. For example, to respond to one of the most ignorant questions to ask a person with disability: “Can you have sex?”
Maximizing inclusion with virtual reality
The film team wanted to bring the audience in connection with disability issues as much as possible. Therefore, they decided to present the film in virtual reality (VR).
A VR film is shot in 360-degree. Instead of watching a film from the outside, the audience are able to witness every moment with the film characters through a VR headset. It allows the audience to immerse in an intimate experience and therefore learn about disability.
Making a VR film, however, is challenging. Everything in the film set is captured by the 360 camera. The film director and support crews cannot guide the actors in the film set. Therefore, the team needed to spend additional time in rehearsals and practices on set beforehand.
All their hard work is worthwhile: “4 Feet: Blind Date” has become the first VR film in the world to explore disability and sexuality. Check out this video to find out how audience enjoy and think about this history-making VR film.
Eye-opening experiences and future projects
The production team shared that working with Rosario has helped them open their eyes and think about inclusion for everyone, for example, accessibility of shooting locations. The director has even spent extra time with Rosario and her family to understand more about her experience as a person with disability, making sure her perspectives would be truthfully covered in the film.
Since the film release in 2018, “4 Feet: Blind Date” has been featured in film festivals in various countries including the 2018 Biennale in Venice and the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, the largest independent film festival in the United States. In this video, the production team talks about their ideas of the film:
Following their success at film festivals, the team is already working on a sequel featuring the same character Juana. They hope to present more stories of people with disabilities on other topics such as friendship, drugs and abortion – something people usually don’t talk about and don’t feel comfortable to see.
What do you think about this film? Is breaking taboos a good way to raise awareness for disability issues?