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Hot Docs 2024: Qs à la mode with… Samuel Habib (The Ride Ahead)

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In The Ride Ahead, co-director and protagonist Samuel Habib expands on his award-winning short film, My Disability Roadmap, to continue his exploration of what it means to live as an adult with a disability. We posed our Qs à la mode to Samuel, and here’s what he shared!

 

If I had to describe my film using only three adjectives, they would be: Badass, hilarious, awesome. 

I decided to make this film because: Disabled people should have their voices heard and we should be able to tell our own stories. Most movies and stories about disabled people are often about curing, or saving, or even killing the person because they have a disability. We created this documentary and our impact campaign so that millions of young adults with disabilities will feel more seen and heard, and find their own mentors. As someone who struggles to communicate, this film is incredibly meaningful to me because it is making my experience visible, and it is getting my voice — and others’ voices — heard. I think it’s going to help improve the world for disabled people.

The thing that surprised me most about my film’s subject/topic was: While filming, we went to a 2020 campaign rally to ask Joe Biden about inclusive education. He answered my question, but then he stroked my face. That was weird. He acted like so many other people, who treat me like I’m a little kid. I feel like he didn’t see me as a full person. 

My favorite moment/scene/sequence in my film is: Keith Jones, one of my seven mentors in the film, telling me his advice for sex: “Rule number one… rule number two… all the way down to 100: bag it up.” And then we added the animation of the condom going all the way over me and my wheelchair — that really cracked me up.

The most challenging part of making my film was: We had a lot of misadventures during our travels. On our flight to Indianapolis to interview Andrew Peterson, they turned my power wheelchair on its side both ways — and it got damaged both ways! On our NYC trip to interview Keith Jones and Maysoon Zayid, I had a seizure. But we still got the filming done on all the trips!

My most invaluable piece of doc-making gear was/is: For three years, I filmed my life from my own perspective with two GoPro cameras mounted on my wheelchair.  That’s how I captured scenes like the woman named “Jo” at the airport, leaning in to me and talking down to me like I was a three-year-old.  I wanted to say, “What the fuck?” But it’s hard for me to react quickly when I’m that upset. At least she made our movie more interesting. 

One piece of documentary-filmmaking advice I’d like to share with aspiring documentarians is: When you make a film, hire people that have the same sort of lived experience as your film subjects.  We made sure that a majority of our production and outreach crew are people with disabilities.  That made The Ride Ahead authentic. We recently shared the film privately with a group of about 25 disabled young adults. They kept telling us how honest it was, how real it was, and that it represented their life experiences. That was the best endorsement we could have possibly hoped for.

 

Want to check out Samuel’s film, or just learn more about it?
Get the scoop, and your tickets, here!

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