On Sunday 25 March 300 people attended a charity screening of the award-winning film Sanctuary at The Odyssey Cinema St Albans.
The event was organised by Tracy Light and the local Coffee and Waffle Group, an informal support group based in St Albans for parents and carers of children and adults who have Down’s syndrome.
Actress Sally Phillips, Professor Tom Shakespeare and champion and distributor of the film, David Wilkinson, came along to support the event and run a Q&A after the film.
The film, written by Len Collin, was extremely well received and the audience was buzzing with interest and positive comments both on the night and on social media. It certainly got people thinking about how inclusion matters! Many were staggered that this wonderful film with 5 star reviews had not been picked up by mainstream cinema or any of the TV channels.
Tracy Light said “This was the second year running The Odyssey have screened a thought provoking, award winning film for Down’s Syndrome Awareness Week. The film was truly brilliant in so many ways. As a mother of a 13 year old son with Down’s syndrome I’m still thinking about the film which I found both uplifting with laugh out loud moments and also heart wrenching too. I think it’s important to see that it’s not just a film about people with DS, it’s a film about ability and respecting the feelings of every individual without prejudice or preconceptions.
“I’m always keen to raise awareness and encourage more and more people to treat all individuals equally. Film is such a powerful way to get people thinking and the conversation carries on for a long time after the film too which is what we want to happen. Sanctuary was the perfect film to achieve this.
“We would all like to thank Anna, Dan and the whole team at The Odyssey for their continued support. We’re very grateful to Len Collin and David Wilkinson of Guerilla Films, Sally Phillips and Professor Tom Shakespeare for their help and support as well.
“We need a campaign now to get Sanctuary show in as many cinemas as possible now – everyone should see it! Last year the St Albans audience really got behind My Feral Heart to help encourage more screenings and as well as still supporting My Feral Heart there are a lot of people now willing Sanctuary on.”
Through collections on the night and through the kindness and support of The Odyssey Cinema, we also raised £1382.77 for the Down’s Syndrome Association. Thank you to everyone who came along.
Sanctuary is now available to buy on DVD here.
Sanctuary Trailer from Len Collin on Vimeo.
Before the spring of 2017 under section 5 of the Irish Criminal Law Act 1993 it was illegal for two people with intellectual disabilities to have an intimate sexual relationship. Due to the work of advocates and the awareness raised by Len Collin’s award-winning film Sanctuary, on 14 February 2017 the law has now changed…Larry and Sophie can be together at last.
Larry has Down’s syndrome. Sophie has severe epilepsy. They are attracted to one another and, with help of one of their care workers, grab the chance to spend some time together on a supervised trip to the cinema. Meanwhile their friends seek out their own adventures: an impromptu shopping trip, with pints in the pub and a cuddle in the cinema. Dave Allen once said: “The secret of comedy is small victories.” The group’s mini-triumphs on an afternoon out in Galway offset the dramatic challenges that face Sophie and Larry, two lovers who refuse to be defined by their disabilities.
Sanctuary is a truly subversive piece of cinema about two young people trying to be together in a world doing everything to keep them apart.
The cast have worked together for many years and are experienced actors and performers. They are all members of the award winning Blue Teapot Theatre Company, Galway. Their powerful, entertaining and emotional performances carry the whole film.
Tom Shakespeare, professor of Disability Research at the University of East Anglia, commented: “I went in with low expectations of sitting through something worthy and dull. I came out feeling joyful, but also angry. This is a laugh-out-loud film which will bring tears to your eyes. Sanctuary represents acting and film-making of the first order. Everyone should see this film.”
How do I get to see Sanctuary?
The team behind Sanctuary have teamed up with Our Screen, the website that lets film fans watch the films they want to see at their local cinema, to provide as many opportunities as possible to see the film.
At the start of last year, many of you will have seen My Feral Heart via the same system.
Visit Our Screen to see if there’s a performance in your area, or contact your local cinema to set up a screening near you then spread the word to get people to book tickets…each screening will only go ahead if enough people commit to going to watch. Find out more about how Our Screen works here.
It is also now available to buy on DVD here.
Congratulations to everyone involved in this wonderful film and thank you for your generous support for the DSA.