2019 SXSW Film: Any One of Us

Directed by Fernando Villena
Starring: Paul Basagotia, Nichole Munk, Cameron Zink, Jesse Billauer, Sam Willoughby, Xander Mozejewski, Steph Aiello, Mike Mac, Annette Ross, and Aaron Baker.
CTDFF Rating: 1/5 stars

A man with a cane sits in a desert landscape, looking somberly out toward a distant rock face.When professional mountain biker Paul Basagoitia (right) suffers a devastating spinal cord injury (SCI), his life is changed in an instant. Discovering that he is paralyzed, Basagoitia begins a grueling battle against his own body and mind, in the hope of one day being able to walk again. His excruciating recovery unfolds in real time through raw, intimate footage, much of which was filmed by Basagoitia himself, as we see him fight through the agonies of an unpredictable journey and uncertain future.

A chorus of diverse SCI survivors' voices weaves through the film, shining light on the struggles that Basagoitia now faces. After years of relentless hard work, intense physical therapy, and even controversial stem cell treatments, he slowly begins to build a new life for himself. ANY ONE OF US shows how lives can change forever in the blink of an eye—and the resilience, grit, and determination it takes to stay open to life's possibilities, even under the most trying of circumstances.

Let me start this off by saying, I had such high hopes for this film, but they were quickly dashed when I realized this is a film that is very anti-disability, shuns the disability community, and focuses primarily on Basagoitia regaining his ability to walk. The interviews with the other SCI survivors echo the same sentiment, and to me, the film felt very much like a pity party.

While I don’t discount the tremendous struggles Basagoitia and the others have been through and the things they have overcome, it is the blatant ableism and feelings of "it sucks to be disabled" that I have a problem with. He’s only focused on what he has lost. While it was great to watch Basagoitia's journey, the film refused acknowledge disability as perhaps a new way of living—and one not entirely full of despair. It would have made a big difference to me if some of the other SCI survivors had offered this point of view. Popular media is already so full of messages that disabled equals pitiable and hopeless, it's disappointing to see that message amplified in ANY ONE OF US.

More: The Hollywoord Reporter's ANY ONE OF US Film Review | SXSW 2019


April 26, 2019, Jennifer Bracy- Development Specialist & CTDFF staff

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