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Fi Kliemna – Video clip by persons with disability aims to challenge perceptions

Published 02 Aug 2019

A new video clip scripted and acted by persons with a disability aims to challenge perceptions by giving a direct voice to their thoughts and feelings.

The script was developed by the actors themselves, most of whom have visible and non-visible impairments.

Fi Kliemna (In our own words) aims to bring the voices of disabled people where inclusion usually begins: the education setting.

Commissioned by the Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD), the video has been doing the rounds among Malta and Gozo’s secondary schools, with the actors running a live question and answer session on disability and disability rights with the students after each viewing.

Through the video, a number of persons with disability have created a lighthearted sketch with serious undertones about the insensitive comments and questions that they encounter on a daily basis.

With a storyline featuring a NASA scientist with a disability in a classroom setting, the script deals with the awkwardness most people experience around persons with a disability, which veers from curious and intrusive to overly polite and patronising. It makes the point that persons with a disability are just that – persons who happen to have a disability.

“It is hearing directly from people with a disability that is likely to produce the greatest shift in people’s thinking,” said CRPD Commissioner Oliver Scicluna. “We launched the video in schools because if disabled children were to be included right from the start and given the space and support to grow, how much easier would it be for us to then be included in employment and to create deep lifelong relationships at school and at the workplace which would serve us well throughout our lives?”

The script was developed in collaboration with Jon Mallia over one year of weekly workshops covering different writing styles, character building and acting. This was followed by four weeks of hands-on script writing in a ‘boiler room’ style set-up where a participant prepared a script in his/her own time and then the whole group worked on embellishing it. Usually the script became unrecognizable by the end of a session, with only the core theme remaining.

“All of the participants delivered at least one script to be doctored by the group. Eventually we settled on one idea. I then proceeded to write the screenplay to the plot which was further doctored by Abigail Mallia and Carlos Debattista,” said Jon Mallia, who led the creative workshops and writing process.

Abigail Mallia and Carlos Debattista came on board also to support further intensive acting workshops. While Jon worked with the participants to create their characters, Abigail directed the project throughout the two-day shoot. The production, workshops and school appearances were managed by Matthew Randon Sciberras.

The video clip was filmed at Maria Regina College Young Adults Education Resource Centre, Wardija School in St Paul’s Bay with the help of MCast students, who took care of hair and make-up.

The video clip can be viewed on the CRPD facebook page.

View more information on Fi Kliemna.