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Putting the kingdom of the blind on film.

Putting the kingdom of the blind on film. (photo)

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Blindness is by far the post popular lack-of-sense in the movies. An IMDb keyword search for “blindness” brings up 682 titles, while “deafness” straggles close behind with a mere 215.

It makes sense, given that vision is (duh) important for movies, a primarily visual medium. In films, the blind tend to be either in peril (Audrey Hepburn in “Wait Until Dark”) or prophetic (in deference to Tiresias the seer, resurrected in “O Brother Where Art Thou”). Rarer, they’re a metaphor (“Blindness”), or surprise ass-kicking action heroes (Zatoichi, classic or Takeshi Kitano revival).

But a blind director, that’s something new. Enter Kevin Bright, who’s profiled today by Linda Matchan in the Boston Globe. Bright, an Emmy-winning producer, has been doing a bang-up job developing and teaching a filmmaking class at the Perkins School for the Blind in Boston, figuring out the logistics of teaching kids who can’t see how to represent themselves on screen.

04212010_tilly.jpgThough no one ever says this explicitly, it’s clear that most of the filmmaking done in the class treads roughly around the territory of the video diary. The issue is two-hand: letting the kids express themselves on their own terms in a medium they never thought they could master, but also producing work that can rewrite what it means to be blind on screen.

Blindness in movies is nearly always a plot point, a gimmick of some sort, never a normative character trait. That’s tends to be true of all forms of disability — hence, the big deal of Andrew Bujalski’s “Beeswax” having a wheelchair-bound character but never once saying anything about it, which is as it should be. (The film’s currently on Netflix Instant, incidentally, and is really worth watching.)

The idea of the class enabling representation of a significant chunk of society on their own terms — one largely deferred thus far — is really interesting. Here’s the video version of the story, including footage from the class which — with its insistence on abrasive handheld qualities — actually would not be out of place in a particularly hyperactive festival movie.

[Photos: “Wait Until Dark,” Warner Bros., 1967; “Beeswax,” The Cinema Guild, 2009]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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