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Montana film makers raise awareness of disabilities

Great Falls film makers raise awareness of disabilities
Posted at 10:08 AM, Apr 17, 2024

GREAT FALLS — Jenniffer Robinson may be blind, but that hasn’t stopped her from entering the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge for the fourth consecutive year.

Through Kryodragon Productions, Jenniffer and fellow filmmaker Chandra Scheschy enlisted the help of others to submit a film called “Clock Blocked.”

“It's a story about two time traveling agents, who get stuck in the 2020s on a mission trying to find an important artifact and a criminal,” said Robinson. “They have to deal with all the challenges that the 2020s have to offer.”

This year’s theme is Buddy Comedy.

Jenniffer says the disabled community is among the most under-represented of minority groups, especially in the media both in front of and behind the camera.

“It's important to get out there for us and show that not only can these particular spaces be filled by disabled people, but we can fill them just as good as an able-bodied person,” said Robinson.

Shyla Patera was born with cerebral palsy, has been myopic since the age of seven, and at the age of 54 is now glaucoma suspect. She has long thought about entering the challenge, after working with Jenniffer and Chandra on advocacy issues, they finally convinced her to take the leap.

Her film is called “Shyla’s Crosswalk Grudge Match," which brings attention to the need for drivers and people with disabilities to share the road.

“I recruited a crew and we really had a blast,” said Patera. “Even though film and media isn't generally my forte, my big goal is to let Great Falls know that people with disabilities can do more than what they're often given credit for.”

Shyla’s companion Mark Sanders, who suffered a traumatic brain injury just before his 13th birthday and is an accessibility advocate, has just one line in the film, but he’s sending a big message.

“Disabled people are valued and are still contribute to the society,” said Sanders.

Chris Johnsrud lost a leg four years ago. He did the filming and his voice can be heard throughout the film.

“The disabled community has brought me along, so I love to give back,” said Johnsrud.

The awareness campaign for the challenge is underway through April 21. The film makers are encouraging people to watch, like and share the films.

“I really want the artist community and Great Falls to see these films and know that they can be a part of everything, too,” said Patera.

Positively Montana