Action Tips: Host a Screening of "Murderball"

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This award-winning documentary film tells the story of a group of world-class athletes who happen to be quadriplegics and play wheelchair rugby. The movie centers on the rivalry between the U.S. and Canadian teams leading up to the 2004 Paralympic Games. These insanely tough athletes will smash every stereotype you ever had about what it means to have a disability.

Why a movie screening?

This is an easy and effective way to spread the word about issues disabled persons face while keeping students engaged at the same time. Let the film do the talking for you.

Where?

  • Your school may have a space where you can show videos. An auditorium or even a study hall with a large screen and projector would be ideal since it seats the most people, but any classroom with a screen and projector can be just as effective (and perhaps cozier). Projectors are expensive, though, so if your school doesn't have one, you can always use a school TV.
  • Can't screen a movie at your school? Are you affiliated with a religious organization? How about asking your religious leader for permission to use a room with video capability. Or you can also try asking your community center. Wherever you decide, ask if you can add the event to the the group's calendar or bulletin.
  • Still stuck? How about asking a local movie theater to donate screen time or host the film series—even in the morning or during the day for school children or religious groups.

When?

The film is about 85 minutes long so if you have a class that long, ask your teacher’s permission first and arrange for the equipment to be ready ahead of time. If not, the best time for the screening may be during lunch or after school. Either way, you should make sure the equipment is prepared ahead of time and ensure you're allowed to use the space. It would be best to speak to a teacher to learn how to book the room so it's guaranteed to be free for the screening.

Who?

This screening should be catered to other students, but parents and faculty should also be welcome to check it out and help supervise the event. Let your teachers and classmates know, and if this turns out to grow into a large event, fliers can be used to help advertise.

Host a discussion.

  • So the movie is over and you’re sitting in a room full of people. What's next? Make sure you hold a discussion about the movie where everyone voices their opinions on the topic. There's really no point to watching a movie unless there's time for discussion afterwards!
  • In order to start things off, always have a list of questions prepared that relate to the movie. Watching the movie on your own beforehand or finding a summary online can give you some ideas. Here are some sample questions:
    • What are the main characters' struggles?
    • What side(s) of the issue does the movie focus on?
    • What do you think the director/screenwriter wants the audience to take away from this movie?
    • What stereotypes did you have prior to viewing the film? After watching this movie, how do you feel about them? Has your opinion changed?
    • What can we do about this issue in our specific community? What resources do we have?
  • Also, take a moment to think about how you want your conversations to be structured. Do you want to have everyone sitting in a big circle and let people voice their opinions without a moderator? Or maybe your audience should break into smaller groups and then share with everyone else later. What would be the best format for what you’re trying to accomplish and for the size of your event?

Feed your audience.

A good way to get people to stick around, whether in your school gym or your living room, is food! Arrange for there to be some kind of snack and drink (cookies and juice work great!) at your event. If it’s a small gathering with friends, make it a potluck where everyone brings a snack, drink or condiment for all to enjoy—that way you won’t end up dishing out too much cash.

After the credits roll....

  • The movie is done and discussion has died down. Before everyone goes home for the night, give them the option to leave their name and e-mail if they’ve been inspired to do something about the cause. Hopefully you’ll end up with a list of people who are equally interested about the cause and who you can team up with for a project.
  • Consider asking all attendees to take a specific action. Maybe you can provide them with a list of ways they can challenge stereotypes about disabled people.
  • You may want to also provide them with a simple fact sheet about the discrimination disabled persons face. It may give them food for thought later and/or they may pass it along to someone else.