SLAMDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2021 REVIEW! The short film Stilts excels at creatively demonstrating what is wrong with placing the medical model of disability on a pedestal. The medical model is a method of thinking about disability that prioritizes doctors and other medical authorities as ‘experts’ on how to best manage the lives of people with disabilities – not those people with disabilities themselves. Disabilities, according to the medical model, come from within and are caused by a biological weakness.
Writer/director Dylan Holmes Williams has created a world where the majority of people have prosthetic stilts that make individuals too tall to get around. Rafe (Tom Glynn-Carney), tired of the burden of the stilts, seeks out a medical procedure to shorten them. Shorter people have advantages that taller people do not, including being able to fit under low ceilings and doors, allowing people to go through an especially long passageway that leads to freedom (or at least a seemingly idyllic mountainscape).
“Rafe, tired of the burden of the stilts, seeks out a medical procedure to shorten them.”
The obvious irony that the filmmaker is highlighting being that this society could create places that accommodate the longer stilts, but for some reason, they have chosen not to. As a result, the medical procedure is necessary, requiring one to get selected for it, which requires a high pain tolerance. Williams ably crafts a strange, fascinating fairy tale that is as odd as it’s emotional honesty.
Stilts encourages us to ask about the modifications we all subject ourselves to “pass” in an inaccessible society, one that could be made more accessible for everyone to thrive with only a few tweaks. This fable is very much appreciated.
Stilts screened at the 2021 Slamdance Film Festival.
"…a strange, fascinating fairy tale that is as odd as it's emotional honesty."