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Defiant Lives

1h 30m Documentary 2017

Defiant Lives tells the story of the rise and triumph of the disability rights movement in Australia, the United States and Britain.

Introducing some of the most impressive activists you’ve never heard of, Defiant Lives features exclusive interviews with elders (some now deceased) who have led the movement over the past five decades, weaving rarely seen archival footage with often-confronting personal stories of disabled men and women as they moved from being warehoused in institutions to fighting for independence and autonomy over their lives.

Once freed from their institutional imprisonment, they found a world full of barriers, and so set about dismantling them one by one. They chained themselves to public transport and demanded access “to boldly go where everyone else has gone before”, and they lobbied for support to live ordinary lives in the community with family, lovers and friends. This is a film full of extraordinary characters who put their lives on the line to create a more inclusive world where everyone, regardless of impairment, is valued and can participate fully.


Sarah Barton


Liz Burke








Leapfrog Films

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Defiant Lives (with Audio Description)
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ACMI acknowledges the Traditional Owners, the Wurundjeri and Boon Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation, on whose land we meet, share and work. We pay our respects to Elders past and present and extend our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from all nations of this land. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website may contain images, voices or names of deceased persons in photographs, film, audio recordings or text.