Continuing my film-by-film look at this year’s Documentary Premieres: Jason DaSilva’s WHEN I WALK, the filmmaker’s candid self-portrait of learning to live with multiple sclerosis.
Sundance Program Description:
It all started on a family vacation. In 2006, the 25-year-old, vital, handsome, talented Jason DaSilva was on a beach with his family when, suddenly, he fell down and couldn’t get back up. Doctors told him he had multiple sclerosis, and it could lead to loss of vision and muscle control, as well as a myriad of other problems. Jason decided to exercise more, but the problem just got worse. So he turned to his mom. She reminded him that he was a fortunate, privileged North American kid who had the opportunity to pursue the things he loved most—art and filmmaking. So Jason picked up the camera, turned it on himself, and began filming the slow, difficult decline of his body and the miracles he encountered along the way.
An emotional and inspirational documentary that is a pleasure to watch, WHEN I WALK is an energizing and self-generating film experience whose creative engine is its young filmmaker’s determination to live and his ability to make sense of being plagued by a devastating disease through the art of cinematic storytelling.
DaSilva has been to Park City before with his short doc, OLIVIA’S PUZZLE (2003). His other films have screened at festivals around the world, including Havana, Thessaloniki Doc, Tribeca, Dallas, and Vancouver. The film’s executive producers include Sundance alums Stanley Nelson (director of FREEDOM RIDERS (2010), WOUNDED KNEE (2009), A PLACE OF OUR OWN (2004), THE MURDER OF EMMETT TILL (2003), MARCUS GARVEY: LOOK FOR ME IN THE WHIRLWIND (2001), and THE BLACK PRESS: SOLDIERS WITHOUT SWORDS (1999); executive producer of BEYOND BEATS AND RHYMES (2006)) and Yael Melamede (producer of EVERGREEN (2004) and BRIEF INTERVIEWS WITH HIDEOUS MEN (2009), as well as the Oscar-nominated short doc INOCENTE by 2013 Sundance directors Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine of LIFE ACCORDING TO SAM).
Why You Should Watch:
A rare look at the onset of a debilitating disease and its impact on one’s life over several years, DaSilva’s film offers a privileged window into the different stages of coming to terms and coping with multiple sclerosis by both the filmmaker and those closest to him. Throughout, DaSilva remains an extremely personable and watchable subject, whether dealing with frustration at the new limitations of his body or receiving some tough love from his scene-stealing mother.