Events 2017 September 2017 Screening of Defiant Lives

Mon, 11 Sep 2017

Screening of Defiant Lives


When: 11 September 17, 5:30pm

Where: At James Cook University
Room D3.054, Building D3 - The Cairns Institute, Cairns Campus

Attend Queensland's only screening of the Defiant Lives documentary!

Defiant Lives is a powerful new feature documentary by Australian director and writer Sarah Barton. Nine years in the making, it tells the previously untold story of the rise and fight of the disability rights movement in Australia, the United States and Great Britain.

“We all know about the civil rights movement and the gay rights movement. The disability rights movement should really sit alongside them in our minds and our history books,” Barton said.

This revelatory documentary features interviews with leading disability rights activists of the past 40 years. Footage is shown of protests in the United States from the late 1970s to early 1990s demanding wheelchair access to public transport and public buildings that proved an inspiration to activists in Australia and Britain. The film weaves together such never-before-seen archival footage with the personal stories of disabled men and women as they moved from being warehoused in institutions to fighting for independence and control over their lives. Once freed from their imprisonment, these activists took on the big charities, criticising the use of celebrities to beg on their behalf.

Aimed at a general audience, the film, which premiered at the Sydney Film Festival, moves away from the traditional ideas of individuals with disabilities being portrayed as pitiable or inspirational. Instead, it highlights the importance of reframing our understanding of disability from a problem existing within individuals to a social problem.

Defiant Lives is a triumphant film full of extraordinary characters who put their lives on the line to create a better and very different world where everyone regardless of impairment is valued and can participate.

Sarah Barton is well known in disability circles as the creator of NO LIMITS, which launched the career of the late comedian Stella Young and put disabled presenters on Australian screens. Her first film, UNTOLD DESIRES, was produced in 1995 and is widely acknowledged as well ahead of its time for its frank discussion about sexuality and disability.

The event will have ample free parking and wheelchair accessibility to and space in theatre. Film is fully captioned & audio describe available.


Standard: $15 / Students: $10

Companion cards excepted, email:

Purchase tickets

More information: View the Defiant Lives preview trailer.