New film offers groundbreaking look at Hollywood’s depictions of disabilities

Director Jenni Gold with actress Jane Seymour, who narrates Cinemability
Director Jenni Gold with actress Jane Seymour, who narrates Cinemability

Jenni Gold decided at age 8 that she wanted to be a director, and she came at that ambition in a not-so-typical way: She was appearing on a telethon to help raise money to battle Muscular Dystrophy, which she has. Dazzled by the production, she went on to earn not only an MFA, but, eventually, her DGA card, and to start her own production company.

Director Jenni Gold interviews actor Danny Murphy of Breaking Bad
Director Jenni Gold interviews actor Danny Murphy of Breaking Bad

Now, Gold, who uses a wheelchair, is trekking around the country to promote her 8-years-in-the-making documentary. It’s called Cinemability, and is an exhaustively researched, thought-provoking and even funny look at the depiction of disabilities in cinema from the dawn of the medium. This is not just an interesting film, but an important one, for it could very well get people thinking about busting stereotypes of the disabled.

From a short film by Thomas Edison depicting a scamming beggar to Lon Cheney, who made a career as an actor from the “Hunchback” and beyond, to Marlee Matlin in “Children of a Lesser God,” and Forrest Gump: the examples are legion. Here’s my chat with Jenni Gold, and the trailer for her film, which starts a limited run in the area today. Details on the Cinemability website.