Last year when Lynne Seagle came to do a presentation here in the Toronto area, we had dinner together at a Irish Pub style restaurant. Lynne was full of stories about the most recent staff retreat that had been held for her organization called Hope House which serves people with intellectual disabilities in Virginia. She went on and on about a film that she had seen and told the story of how she came to get rights to show the film at the staff retreat. That was the first time I had heard of Darius Goes West. Lynne spoke of her staff watching the film and alternately laughing, crying and cheering.
When Lynne wrote me a few days ago asking for my home address because she had something she wanted to send me, I thought that she was probably going to send me the new sexuality policy that we'd worked on together or a draft of our plans to do a workshop day together. Both things I wanted, so when the package arrived, I tossed it aside for a few minutes because I was talking to my boss on the phone.
As soon as I was done, I ripped open the package to find a note from Lynne and a DVD copy of Darius Goes West. All I remembered about what Lynne had said about the movie was that it was about a group of young men who take another young man with Muscular Dystrophy on a road trip to California to see if they can get his wheelchair 'pimped' on the MTV programme Pimp My Ride. A wonderful concept. We had company staying with us and everyone gathered around the television.
We popped it in and pushed play. Within seconds my eyes began to fill and I had to look away. I wished I was seeing this on my own. Why didn't Lynne warn me about ... oh yeah ... she did. But no shame here, everyone was reacting the same way. The movie is full of laughs, real laughs ... but it's also full of moments of real, true, tenderness. It encourages the viewer to reevaluate what community means, what caring means ... they were documenting two road trips - the one made by the 15 year old man with Duchene's Muscular Dystrophy to California, but they were also documenting the journey that each was making in relation to the other. At first the young men travelling with Darius learned little lessons about the big issue of assessibility - but they began to learn big lessons about the little issue in life.
All the money from the sale of the DVD is going to raise money for research into MD, that's cool, but even if it wasn't - this isn't a DVD you buy to support a charity, this is a DVD you buy because for the time watching it, you are with Darius as he goes west. And for 90 minutes, there's no better place to be.
Note to Readers: I don't know how to buy this film, I looked it up on the web, but I'm not all that good at these kind of searches. It's not on Amazon ... so if you know or if you are a computer whizz that can find these ... could you post in the comments section about purchase information. This is a must see, must experience, movie.
Note to Lynne - Thanks.