A Voice For People With Disabilities

‘Summer in the Forest,’ a film about work of Jean Vanier, to debut in New York

Editor’s note: Lifestyles Media Department had the opportunity to screen “Summer in the Forest,” a film that tells the story of how Jean Vanier’s life was changed when he began living and working with people with intellectual disabilities. Vanier founded L’Arche, an international network of communities supporting people with developmental disabilities.

The film has its New York debut on Friday March 23 at Village East Cinema.
Also Max Toone, here to promote the film, stopped in for a quick interview videoed with members of the Media Department. Check out that video, the trailer of the film, and the reviews and reflections that the film sparked in participants at Lifestyles.
“ ‘Summer in the Forest’ is a movie about people with disabilities. They become independent,” says Joseph Padalino. “They shave. They go out and have a good time. I give it a 10. It is a very emotional movie. The ending will make anybody emotional.”
“This movie is about people’s lives and how life changed for people with disabilities.,” adds Dolores Palermo. “For everybody it will teach you something about life and the goodness of health.”
“Hopefully, this movie will bring out awareness in people who don’t have disabilities,” observes Joseph Schiavone.
Much of the film takes place in a village outside of Paris. “It takes place in a forest. It is beautiful. You can see the trees and hear the birds,” says Dolores Palermo.

“The music of the introduction and the setting wrapped me up in a spiral of emotions,” said Joseph Schiavone.
Sal DiBenedetto: In those days [in the 1960s] people like us were institutionalized. They didn’t want people like us in the community. Now we go out in the community and take on challenges.
Anthony DiFato: “It is slow paced. You see a man shave, going to the grocery store, picking up the mail.
Kevin DiStefano: I like the guy on the tractor who was cutting the grass.

Andrew Moszenberg: In ways, he (Michel) is like us. We are the same on the inside, our feelings.
Sal DiBenedetto: I liked the part when they walked into town, trying on clothing. It showed what it is like in the community, doing normal everyday stuff.
(Story continues after “Summer in the Forest” Trailer.)
Frank Faretra: “It’s funny.  They treat him well in the group home, but outside they bullied him.”  (Referring to Hilmi, a Palestinian boy in the second half.)
Aaron Bialer: The thinking was they should be locked up. Little did they know it’s not true. People do care about them.
Dolores Palermo: For people with disabilities, it helps build self-esteem. You can prove yourself to yourself by doing everyday activities such as taking a shower. I struggle with getting dressed, but I can do it if I try.
Joseph Padalino: The movie is funny.  It reminds me of “My Left Foot.” It shows me how people get through disability.  Part of the movie makes me sad. They take care of one another.

Sam Stone: “An amazing movie.  It’s great that they get to work together and work things out.”
Written with Kathryn Carse and Eddy Gregory

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