University of Colorado Denver film director David Liban, MFA, captures the life of the disabled community in his latest movie “Roll On,” which airs on Rocky Mountain PBS at 9 p.m. on Aug. 4. Turning from a medical approach, this documentary unfolds the spirits of people in the disabled community throughout Colorado and Wyoming.
Liban has received numerous awards for his work including an Emmy in the cultural documentary category for his film “Mortal Lessons.” National and international film festivals have shown his work and given him high praises. “Role On” focuses on people diagnosed with neuromuscular disorders.
For one of his interviews, Liban was welcomed into the home of a young man living with muscular dystrophy. Liban extended his hand only to find the man could not move his arm. Instead of an awkward silence, the man encouraged Liban to pick up his hand and shake it. Liban hopes to give viewers of “Roll On” a similar experience.
“We often see them with sympathy and as victims while actually they’re thriving individuals,” said Liban.
“Roll On” was made with the support of the Muscle Clinic at Children’s Hospital Colorado on the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus where Liban bounced ideas off of fellow colleagues Audrey Yee, PhD, and Lori Yacone.
Those who tune in on Aug. 4 won’t learn much about the science behind neuromuscular disorders or medications. Liban said the goal of the film was to help viewers see these people as much more than their disability, but as happy and productive individuals.
“I’ve been told that this film is different because it deals with disorders in a way that people usually don’t,” said Liban, “The goal behind it was to let the viewers get to know these folks as people and not as the wheelchair.”
Liban said he made the film for people outside the medical community in an effort to give them a new perspective on those living with neuromuscular disorders. He also stated the film can benefit parents who have children that have been recently diagnosed. It is meant to show the potential obstacles of their children’s illness as well as a great deal of hope and potential they can still have.
Overall, Liban’s hope for “Roll On” is simple.
“I want viewers to like the people we interview,” he said.
If he’s successful, the boundary between the disabled community and the able-bodied community won’t be so large.