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We have been called “village idiots”, “imbeciles”, “fools”, “sub-humans” and “retards”. We have been thrown to the wolves, incarcerated in prisons and institutions, abused and even murdered in foster homes, rooming houses and streets across the country. We have been feared and misunderstood for centuries. We are people with intellectual disabilities. This film – “'The 'R' Word - but names will always hurt you'” – chronicles the incredible struggles of people with intellectual disabilities and their families to be recognized and treated as fully human with the same rights as anyone else in society. Beginning with a brief examination of the history of their oppression, we see how the fears and superstitions of the middle ages, with their creation and isolation of the “village idiot”, culminate in the policies of Hitler and the eugenics movement. And how vulnerable these beginnings have left people with intellectual disabilities right up to the present day. We do this by revealing personal histories over three generations - of families and individuals, their incredible stories of courage, vulnerability and love. The film will also look at the not so pretty side, where individuals are abandoned and neglected by family and society left to suffer and die in isolation.
We come out of these stories with a new understanding of the urgency to create conditions where all people can maximize their potential without fear of discrimination and dehumanization and how that process in turn makes us all more fully human.
Pierre Tétrault is the writer/director of the documentary called “This Beggar's Description” for the National Film Board of Canada which was released in the spring of 2005. It tells his brother's story – one of art, love and madness – capturing the far-reaching effects of schizophrenia, on one man, his family and his friends. It had its world premiere at the Montreal World Film Festival in 2005 and has been seen in numerous film festivals in Canada and the States winning the CBC Newsworld Award for Best Documentary at the Victoria Independent Film Festival 2006 and the Calgary Picture This Festival 2007 as well as the Schizophrenia Society Of Canada's Media Award 2006. It is now being aired on the Documentary Channel. He is also a director of fiction having directed Doris Rajan's “Healing Rani”, a half hour comedy for television recently released that had its premiere at the New York International Independent Film Festival in July 2007. Pierre was also executive producer and co-writer of “Crack Diary”, a half hour drama that aired on CBC, TVO and Bravo.