Bryn Mawr Film Institute will host a screening of Pennhurst, a groundbreaking documentary chronicling perhaps the worst case of institutional abuse of disabled people in U.S. history, on Wednesday, July 24 at 7 PM.
The film follows the stories of former Pennhurst residents who relate their tales of abuse and survival against devastating odds. A visit to the former institution and interviews with former residents, staff, advocates, and lawyers are also included in this film, which lasts one hour and 22 minutes.
“We made this film to draw attention to the treatment of people with disabilities,” said director Jodie Alexandra Taylor. “Institutions like Pennhurst prevent autonomy and perpetuate negative stereotypes for people with disabilities. They create the false perception that people with disabilities are incapable or unworthy of participating in society at large when, in fact, the exact opposite is true.
“Former residents of Pennhurst exhibit the epitome of human resilience, exemplify the ability to overcome, and freely forgive the atrocities of the past, qualities we should all celebrate. If nothing else is taken away from our documentary, we hope this lesson is: Kindness and compassion toward people with disabilities will lead us all to a richer, more vibrant community.”
Following the screening, there will be a discussion with the Pennhurst Memorial & Preservation Alliance’s Dr. James Conroy, Jean Searle, Ed Goldman, and Dr. Dennis Downey.
“The Arc is incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to support individuals and families while they lived at Pennhurst, the quest for social justice, their transition to the community, and to help shape a community that embraces all citizens,” said Jeanne Meikrantz, Executive Director of The Arc of Chester County. The local nonprofit advocates, educates, and provides services to empower individuals with disabilities and their families to enhance the quality of their lives.
“It is so important to continue to educate elected officials and the community through the history of Pennhurst, so we can ensure every person is respected and valued and individuals with disabilities and their families remain in the forefront of our daily work and legislative priorities,” said Meikrantz. “This documentary is a critical part of ensuring that important outcome is achieved.”
Bryn Mawr Film Institute is a nonprofit, member-supported theater and film education center dedicated to promoting shared experiences that engage and educate audiences through a diverse range of independent-minded films, a full curriculum of courses, and an extensive program of special events.
Click here to purchase tickets to the screening of Pennhurst.