Bafta faces backlash over withdrawal of disability film

Bafta is facing embarrassment over its decision to back out of screening a challenging documentary about disability.

The maker of The Last American Freak Show has accused the British Academy of Film and Television Arts of discrimination after it performed a U-turn over the planned showing, days before the Academy's glamorous film awards at the Royal Opera House.

The film was shot one-handed by the director Richard Butchins, whose arm was paralysed by polio as a child. It is a stark look at disabled people who flaunt their conditions. Filmed over six weeks and following six disabled and four non-disabled people who made up a carnival touring the US, it shows the individuals "perform" in bars and theatres.

Bafta, which helps develop British films throughout the year, had agreed to show the film in a joint event with X'08 – the eighth International Disability Film Festival – at its headquarters on Piccadilly in central London, on 18 February.

Now Mr Butchins has expressed his fury that Bafta has not only pulled out of the profile-raising event but also replaced it with a crude Hollywood comedy, Lars and the Real Girl, about a disabled man's passion for a mail-order sex doll.

On his internet blog, Mr Butchins says Bafta has "freaked out" about the flim and employed a PR company to navigate its way out of the controversy. "Bafta have decided that my film's content is inappropriate for its members to see at an event hosted, and get this, by the London Disability Arts Forum as part of the London Disability Film Festival," Mr Butchins said.

The film-maker claims Bafta eventually admitted its concerns over the film. "Corinna Dowling, head of events at Bafta and the person responsible for the decision, [told] me that the 'aesthetic' of the film was wrong, that it was too explicit, raised too many questions and was too demanding for the event in question," he said.

The director of X'08, Peter Kinkead, said his organisation initially approached Bafta about using its rooms to round-off the film awards with a showing of the film, and Bafta then suggested a combined event. Now, Mr Kinkead says, "It's been terribly difficult to find out exactly what the reason [for the change of plan] is. You wonder if it's about disabled people not behaving in the right way."

But, he aded: "This film is about disabled people reclaiming their identity. They are proud to be freaks."

In a statement, Bafta said: "Bafta have simply not banned Mr Butchins' film as he suggests. Any comments were not a critique on Mr Butchins' work but against a pre-agreed criteria for the subject matter."

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Harry Redknapp. Mark Hughes and Ryan Shawcross
footballNews and updates as Queens Park Rangers host the Potters
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
New Articles
i100... with this review
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
New Articles
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Head of Marketing - London

£60000 - £85000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Interim Head of Marketing / Marketin...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Digital Project Manager

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Digital Project Manager is needed to join an exciti...

Paid Search Analyst / PPC Analyst

£24 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Paid Search Analyst / PPC...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam