INTERVIEW WITH JASON DASILVA ABOUT « WHEN I WALK » (JANUARY’S DOCVILLE)

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RIDM : The making of this film seemed like a necessary and natural thing for you to do when you found out you had multiple sclerosis (MS). Did you have in mind at the beginning of the project that you wanted to bring your story to the public audience or was it more a personal project?

Jason DaSilva : It was a personal project so I didn’t go insane. I treaded it as a piece of performance art in the spirit of Marina Abramović and Vito Acconci. I treated it as making art more than making a piece of journalism.

RIDM : The process of making the film lasted over 7 years, what were the challenges of making a film over such a long period?

JDS: I think the main problem was the fact that I was living with multiple sclerosis and it was hard to go back and watch footage of myself being better from a year or two ago, and doing that year after year.

RIDM : How did sharing your story helped you go through all the challenges that multiple sclerosis (MS) brought to your life?

JDS : It didn’t really. It is good to know that other people with MS and other challenges find inspiration from the film, but it was and it continues to be a challenge.

RIDM : Your strength and passion are very inspiring. What fuels up to keep such a good spirit and good attitude towards your situation and your life?

JDS : I don’t know. The challenges still exist just the same as anyone else. Perhaps it’s that I get a kick out of being on camera and performing, like my mom or brother.

RIDM : Your wife Alice ends up being not only a subject in your film but also your co-writer, camera operator, producer and editor for this film. How has this collaboration worked out for you?

JDS : Great, as you can imagine. She’s a lot smarter than me, but she’s not quite as fast of an editor as me. So we make a good team.

RIDM : One of the shocking moments of the film is when we realize that access to public spaces can be much more complicated than expected. You’ve been working on a website AXSMAP. Has your film opened up new opportunities for people with MS or do you feel it has in any way opened up authorities mind and pushed them to take action in regards to access to wheelchairs in public spaces?

JDS : Actually it’s AXSMAP.com. That sounds very romantic that it’s opened up pilcy makers mind and hearts towards acessability, but I don’t think that it has. Whatever the case is, my intention is that it’s created by the people for the people, and I hope that in the future policy makers will follow behind. But no sign of it just yet.

RIDM : When I Walk has encountered huge popularity. It has traveled to tons of festivals, won many awards, and has had theatrical release in various cities in the United States. Are you planning to do a new film after that?

JDS : Yes. I am slowly working towards my next film.

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« When I Walk » will be screened on Thursday January 30 at 8:00 PM, at Cinéma Excentris. 

At the age of 25, Jason DaSilva was on a beach with his family when he suddenly found he couldn’t walk. Suffering severe multiple sclerosis, Jason turned to his passion: art and cinema. With courage and determination, for seven years he filmed his own body’s deterioration and his struggle to live a dignified and meaningful life. An ambitious, emotional diary that was awarded Best Canadian Film at Hot Docs 2013.

 The film will be presented in collaboration with the Quebec Division of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada. 

Interview: Roxanne Sayegh (RIDM)