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Know Down Syndrome Through Films

by Sonali Medhekar
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What comes first to your mind when you hear a word ‘Down Syndrome’? You must have seen a child with Down Syndrome around you without knowing about the name and details of the condition. The flat face with up-slanted eyes, the intellectual and speech deficits- those are the standard takeaways of those encounters for most of us. Some of us may know that this condition is caused by an extra chromosome 21. But there is much more beyond these first hand impressions and superficial facts.

That is why; here is the list of films and a description for better understanding.

I will be discussing about mainstream films as well as documentaries as I have come across beautiful documentaries which cannot be missed.

Mainstream films

  1. Jewel (English, Available on Amazon Prime): Struggle to get the diagnosis and after effects of formal diagnosis ‘Down Syndrome’ can be understood through this film very well. A lot of family dynamics aspects such as effect on siblings, marital discord between parents are aptly portrayed in this Farrah Fawcett starrer Jewel.
  • The Peanut Butter Falcon (English, Amazon Prime): Story of an unusual coach and exceptional wrestler. Who is who? Do watch this interesting film on prime to know more.
  • Yellow (Marathi, Zee 5): A powerful true story of not only a daughter with Down Syndrome but also of a Mother getting empowered in the process of raising a child with Down Syndrome. Gauri, the protagonist has shown us ‘There is a way where there is a will’.  Many of the interviews of Gauri Gadgil can also be seen on YouTube explaining her journey to become a successful swimmer.
  • Ahaan (Hindi, Netflix): It is claimed that this is the first Hindi film with a protagonist having DS. Ahaan gives a different perspective on overall disability by asking a meaningful question. What is that question? Do find out by watching this film on Netflix.
  • Touched by Grace (English, YouTube): Youth and their relationships, including bullying difficulties are portrayed in this film. It is based on true events faced by teenagers in their communities.

Documentaries

  • Abhishek (English and Hindi, YouTube): It is an interview of parents and a teacher of a boy who is diagnosed with DS. Parents have shared useful information. What is different about this documentary is that teacher has spoken very fondly of a child. She has observation and correct information about DS and knows how to be empathetic.  
  • Welcome to the strangest hotel (English, YouTube): Have you heard of entire hotel being run by individuals with disabilities? Well here is the documentary to take you on a ride of such hotel. You will surely be enthralled to know about its functioning.
  • Monica and David (English, YouTube): It is a story of a couple who wants to get married. Guess what is new! Both are individuals with Down Syndrome. It is a good comment on what level of social support is necessary for motivating and helping a couple with disability pursue their life as normal as it could be.
  • My extra chromosome and me (English, YouTube): A typical documentary spanning from birth of a baby to education and employment difficulties faced by persons with Down Syndrome are depicted. Narratives of experiences from three individuals’ parents, teachers and coaches have been woven beautifully.  
  • El retrato de David (Spanish, YouTube): Sweet yet extremely matured bond between two young siblings is noteworthy for their supportive nature and understanding of true meaning of ‘being there for each other’.
  • Indelible (English, YouTube): Fascinating story of 7 individuals with DS and their families will definitely leave you amazed and motivated. These individuals are residents of India. We come to know about the strengths and weaknesses of Indian society, family as they start their journey of embracing DS.
  • Aditi’s corner (Hindi, YouTube): This one is a pure success story of a girl whose ambition is to open a five star hotel. Currently she runs a restaurant quiet famous in Navi Mumbai.

There are plenty more documentaries on YouTube related to DS. You can explore by typing Down Syndrome’ on YouTube search to see which one you find appealing. The mentioned documentaries might look like success stories but once you start watching these films you will realize they are full of true and genuine emotions of every day as well as big struggles which in turn makes us a great human.

To know more about Down Syndrome (It’s name, characteristics, more film references, books and much more), do watch our video on YouTube channel ‘Speak with Sonali’.

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