Three everyday people with traumatic brain injury disabilities use arts to reconnect to a sense of identity, self-pride, and community and to assert their agency and autonomy. This feature-length documentary centers the artists’ narratives, creating complex portraits that go beyond the medical aspects of brain injury that typically dominate educational media on the topic.
This film contains mature themes and adult language. Three short films, each focused on one person in the film, now available on DVD and Kanopy Streaming.
a "clear-eyed documentary.... For all three subjects, art serves as a saving grace." Recommended. ★★★
Who Am I To Stop It is documentary about the traumatic brain injury community made by a filmmaker with disabilities from brain injury. It follows three artists as they navigate social isolation, stigma, and rebuilding their identities. They practice the arts to re-connect to their own sense of self-pride and to their larger communities. Rather than emphasize the injuries themselves or highlight medical aspects of disability, we explore consequences of institutional and internalized ableism. Through visual arts, music, and personal narrative, the subjects explore questions around poverty, sexuality, faith, family, success, and community. Using a biopsychosocial framework, Who Am I To Stop It deftly uncovers what lies beneath the surface for so many peers with brain injury and their communities.
This film contains mature themes and adult language.
The documentary weaves together three distinct stories that cross age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, class, family support, and disability. Despite their different life contexts, the film reveals how brain injury survivors are complex, dynamic people with creative drive and agency. In the film, we witness interruptions to career plans, relationships, education, and family ties. Likewise, the viewer celebrates a sense of accomplishment as all three subjects present their art publicly for the first time with their new identities as peers with brain injury. Each subject proactively works to challenge their own and others' views of their worth and value by creating and sharing their art. By emphasizing daily life and storytelling over expert interviews, viewers are invited to question their assumptions about people with brain injury and what role the community can play in ending stigma and unlearning ableism.
"...the most unfiltered view of the daily life of individuals who have had a traumatic brain injury that I've seen. If anyone wants to understand brain injury better, we have to look past the drama, past the list of impairments, to the person."
“Honest, human, richly textured…. Highly recommended viewing for all seeking an integrated, deeper understanding of the journey of life with TBI.”
"A groundbreaking and brilliant film on living with traumatic brain injury and the power of art."
"Thank you for enhancing my awareness and for giving me the opportunity to support survivors with increased empathy."
"This film will contribute stimulating, contemporary subject matter for undergraduate and graduate classrooms, across disciplines of the sciences, arts, and humanities."
"Who Am I To Stop It pulls practitioners, students and educators out of the world of criteria and outcomes, and returns them to the human, whose voice, value, and evolution cannot and should not be stopped. This film is the missing piece to any curriculum."
"Lists of symptoms in a textbook cannot do justice to the profundity of the changes experienced on an everyday level by individuals with a brain injury. Avoiding clinical terminology, sensationalism, and jargon, this compelling film follows the lives of three very different people in their search for coherence and understanding. By the end, we know them not as 'cases' but almost as intimate portraits of people from our own lives."