Don’t predict what a person with Down syndrome can’t do

Chakraborty & DeSanctis at 2014 DSL Walk

Chakraborty & DeSanctis at 2014 DSL Walk

This Saturday, after our local Down syndrome awareness walk, the film “Produce” had it’s Louisville premiere. It showed how you can’t predict what a person with Down syndrome will be able to do.

Long-time readers will remember the Hollywood beginning to last year’s walk.

Chakraborty & DeSanctis at 2013 DSL Walk

Chakraborty & DeSanctis at 2013 DSL Walk

At our annual walk, Milan Chakraborty, a film producer, announced that David DeSanctis, a lifelong member of DSL, would star as the title character in the independent film, “Produce.”

Well, a year  later, the Produce team brought the finished film back to Louisville.

That morning, DSL held it’s annual walk. And, again, Chakraborty and DeSanctis shared the main stage, sharing about DeSanctis’ busy year of touring other film festivals and the reaction “Produce” has enjoyed (see photo above).

Saturday evening, Louisvillians got the chance to see the film for themselves.

IMG_2718Key scenes were filmed at Slugger Field, where Louisville’s Triple-A baseball team, the Louisville Bats, play. It was a fitting location for “Produce” to have its Louisville premiere back at Slugger Field.

The film played to a sold out crowd, with staff bringing in additional seating to accommodate the turn-out.

The film centers around a former professional baseball player trying to deal with alcoholism and raising his teenage daughter. His life begins to turn for the better when he allows himself to be open to interacting with “Produce,” a young man with Down syndrome who works in the produce section at the local grocery.

I had seen only a bit of the film when it was shown at this summer’s National Down Syndrome Congress’ convention. I was surprised by much of what I saw in the film.

Even in the small snippet I watched at the NDSC convention, I was impressed by DeSanctis’ acting. This was his first time being on film. But, his ability to convey emotion through his nonverbal expressions impressed me, even more than his ability to nail his lines.

The crowd seemed equally impressed.

Produce-photo-Tom-LeGoff-2013-004

Promotional still from “Produce”

They laughed when the movie built to a laugh; they sighed and shook their heads when DeSanctis’ character is mistreated in the film; and they “awe-d” when Produce delivers some flowers to a girl.

After the movie, Chakraborty and DeSanctis hosted a “Q&A.” During the session, Chakraborty shared a touching story.

“Produce” was first shown at the Dallas International Film Festival in April this year. There, a father of a three year-old daughter with Down syndrome shared how the film had changed what he thought was possible for his daughter.

DeSanctis’ own father shared that same sentiment with me at Slugger Field.

DeSanctis’ father has been active with DSL since his son’s birth. Indeed, at the very first Dads’ Night Out I attended, it was myself, two other fathers who had children under the age of 1, and DeSanctis’ dad.

DeSanctis signing autographs Saturday evening

DeSanctis signing autographs Saturday evening

On Saturday, after the film and the Q&A, as his son signed autographs, I asked his father if he ever could have envisioned this moment when his son was born? DeSanctis’ Dad shook his head in disbelief and said, “no way. No way could we have expected this.”

It’s a lesson that professional guidelines even counsel medical professionals on: be cautious in making predictions about what any child will ultimately be able to do.

It is easy to see the limits life can place on any of us. But, like the father in the movie, or DeSanctis’ own father, or the chance the Produce team took in casting DeSanctis in the title role despite never acting on film, if you can be open to the possibility of the unimaginable, sometimes, just sometimes, the unimaginable can happen for you, for your loved one, and for a young man with Down syndrome who gives an amazing performance in the film “Produce.”

Efforts are being made for Produce to get wider distribution. If you would like to help with that, simply “Like” the film’s Facebook page at this link

Comments

  1. Where can I view and share this film with others as part of Down Syndrome Awareness Month?

    • Currently the movie is being shown at film festivals. You can find where it will be shown next by visiting the movie’s Facebook page (linked at end of blog post) or it’s website at this link. You can help increase the chance of it getting picked up by a distributor by simply liking its Facebook page. Once picked up, then the film should be shown on a more nationwide basis.

Trackbacks

  1. […] “Produce” the movie premieres: this year the movie “Produce” premiered at several film festivals, including in my hometown of Louisville. It is a film that stars David DeSanctis, a young man with Down syndrome, who happens to be a member of my local Down syndrome support organization. DeSanctis does a remarkable acting job, given that it is his first role as an actor. Hopefully 2015 will find Produce receiving a wider distribution and changing how some may see a life with Down syndrome. […]

  2. […] at the local supermarket. I wrote about DeSanctis being cast in the lead role in 2013 and then his Q&A after the film’s local premiere here in Louisville a year […]

  3. […] young man who plays a key role in turning the lead character’s life around also exceeded many’s expectations, not the least for the role being DeSanctis’ first time ever […]

  4. […] of a young man who plays a key role in turning the lead character’s life around also exceeded expectations, not the least for the role being DeSanctis’ first time ever […]

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