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I Didn't See You There cover image

I Didn't See You There 2022


Distributed by Good Docs
Produced by Keith Wilson
Directed by Reid Davenport
Streaming, 76 mins

College - General Adult
Disability Studies; Film Studies; Sociology

Date Entered: 03/06/2023

Reviewed by Giovanna Colosi, Librarian for the School of Education, Subject Instruction Lead, Syracuse University

Filmmaker Reid Davenport directs and films his autobiographical documentary, I Didn’t See You There, from his wheelchair. He wanted the viewer to see the world how he sees it, from either his wheelchair or his two feet. We never directly see Davenport, but merely catch glimpses of his reflection.

Much of the film has limited dialogue and is narrated by Davenport himself as he documents his home life, doing ordinary tasks such as screening calls and working on his computer and as he navigates Oakland, California and then his visit to family in Connecticut. In is travels throughout the city, Davenport sees that the circus has put up a tent. He wonders if at another time, he might have been one of the “human curiosities” that were exploited at circuses across the country. Throughout the film we see how Davenport struggles with certain tasks, and it is made obvious to the viewer that architecture, urban planning, and public transportation still views the disabled as second-class citizens.

Many of the scenes are mundane and ordinary, but they are interspersed with more tense scenes. One such scene is when Davenport travels the city you can hear screams of a man swearing and you can make-out he is talking about Davenport filming. Davenport films the sky, perhaps not to film the man who is yelling, maybe to protect his privacy, or maybe for his own safety. The scene is followed by a very jarring piece of music, as you see the pavement being filmed and gives the viewer a sense of urgency as if Davenport is in a hurry getting away from something. The use of music throughout the film to punctuate certain feelings is impressive.

My screening did not include closed captioning and it was somewhat difficult to understand at times, so I would encourage those showing the film in classrooms to make sure you have closed captioning on for all viewers. This film would be a good one to show in a Film Studies or Disability Studies course with the caveat that it does drag in spots, and instructors may want to show only certain scenes in class. This film is best suited for academic libraries.

Winner of U.S. Documentary Directing Award, Sundance Film Festival; Winner of Grand Jury Award, Full Frame Film Festival; Winner of GGA McBaine Bay Area Documentary Award, SFFILM Festival

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