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Dances and giggles and stars: two men with Down syndrome fall in love

‘John is very, very big. And Michael was very, very small. They lived in a group home, they grew up together and they are very good friends.’

In her award-winning short John and Michael (2004), the Israeli-born Canadian filmmaker Shira Avni tells a touching love story of two men with Down syndrome. Inspired by a couple she met while working at a summer camp for people with intellectual disabilities, Avni used a clay-on-glass animation style to convey the richness and particularities of their relationship. For the narration, she collaborated with Brian Davis, who also has Down syndrome, scrapping a script she had written in favour of his own telling of the story, based on a storyboard with drawings of John and Michael’s relationship. Through her simultaneously earthy and dreamlike visuals, which take on further depth through the warmth and emotion of Davis’s voice, Avni offers a moving and truly unique exploration of human connection and loss.

Director: Shira Avni

Narrator: Brian Davis

Website: National Film Board of Canada

2 November 2018

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