♪♪ ♪♪ [ Subway train approaching ] -When the train starts accelerating after I do, there is a moment when we're going exactly the same speed.
[ Indistinct conversations ] [ Trains whistling down tracks ] [ Train chugging down tracks ] [ Mid-tempo music plays ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Man speaking indistinctly on P.A.
system ] [ Wheels rolling ] [ Beep ] Many BART stations put the elevators outside the fare gates.
[ Beep ] So you can either pay or go out the emergency exit to access the elevator, or just not pay at all.
[ Elevator whirring ] It took just one time going through this for me to reevaluate the dilemma.
[ Elevator whirring ] They didn't do enough to make me stop though.
[ Wheels vibrate ] [ Wheels rolling ] I've made several films before but never could shoot them myself.
This was the case several years ago, when I made a film about growing up with a disability.
I've filmed largely about how the world is for me.
I got this new camera that I can handle myself.
It allowed me to be more spontaneous and look for shapes and patterns, without worrying about meanings and words.
I wanted to make a film about how I saw the world.
My very first theme put me behind the camera.
I can show you how I see without having to be seen.
[ Siren wails in distance ] [ Horn honks ] [ Indistinct conversations ] [ Sighs ] [ Door creaks ] [ Panting ] [ Sighs ] [ Grunting ] [ Door thumping ] [ Soft music plays in distance ] [ Indistinct conversations in distance ] ♪♪ [ Magnetic screen door taps ] ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Music and conversations continue in distance ] ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Indistinct conversation in distance ] Soon after I started filming, the circus set right up across the street from my apartment.
It seemed out of place in the middle of Oakland.
I had too many flies in my apartment that I had to set up traps.
I wonder if I feel more than other people.
[ Light thud ] [ Birds chirping ] [ Wheels rolling ] -Happy Sunday.
-Happy Sunday to you.
[ Traffic passing ] [ Soft music plays ] ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Horn honks in distance ] -When I'm in my chair, my eyes are closer to the ground.
♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Indistinct conversation ] Hey, are you guys almost done?
-Sorry for the wait.
[ Indistinct conversation ] [ Horn honks ] [ Wheels vibrating on bricks ] -Every time I went out to film, the circus tent was in the shot.
The tent made me think about the legacy of the freak show, about being looked at but not seen.
Freak shows used to display certain people -- brown, queer, disabled -- as human oddities.
[ Indistinct conversation ] Performers included Calvin Phillips, the famous American dwarf child; Chang and Eng, Siamese Double Boys; and Jenny Lee and Elvira Snow, who were billed as pinheads.
[ Traffic passing ] I couldn't shoot a frame without thinking about this...damn tent.
[ Water running ] [ Footsteps approaching ] [ Clearing throat ] [ Gulping liquid ] [ Cork pops ] [ Object taps tabletop ] [ Liquid swishing ] [ Glass thumping ] [ Sighs ] [ Cork pops ] [ Sighs ] [ Squeak ] [ Footsteps ] [ Object taps tabletop ] [ Footsteps ] [ Sighs ] -You have three new messages.
-Hey, pal, what's going on?
Just figured I'd try you again.
It's a little after 3:00 here now.
Uh, give me a holler when you have time.
I'll talk to you soon.
-[ Sighs ] -Press 1 to save.
Press 7 to de-- [ Beep ] Next message.
-Hey, Reid, it's Mom.
Just checking in, seeing how you're doing.
It's hotter than the face of the sun here.
Alright, just want to say hi, see what's happening.
Give me a call.
-Press 1 to save.
[ Beep ] -[ Inhales deeply ] [ Exhales, coughs ] [ Gulps ] -Last message.
This call is officially a final notice from IRS.
The reason of this call is to inform you that IRS is filling a lawsuit on your name be-- [ Beep ] [ Computer mouse clicking ] [ Traffic passing ] [ Indistinct conversations ] -Hey, what's going on?
[ Wheels rolling on bumpy surface ] I moved to the Bay seven years ago to become an artist after failing at more-conventional career paths.
[ Wheels rolling over bumpy surface ] Moving here meant being far away from people who I didn't want to be far away from.
Before I even arrived at Oakland, transformation was under way.
[ Horn honks in distance ] [ Indistinct conversations in distance ] -They pay too much for these buildings.
These are really expensive buildings, and it takes up a lot of space in our city.
But they spend so much ...money on this place, and they refuse to provide two Porta-Potties to support their local community!
And I think that that is a big problem!
-...you know retail is just a fancy word for it... -I've had these.
He lives in my neighborhood, so... -Yeah, no.
I'm not here to... -[ Whistling ] [ Wheels rolling on rough surface ] [ Wheel-rolling speed accelerates ] [ Wheels rolling on rough surface ] [ Drum beats slowly ] It's a crosswalk!
[ Drumbeat accelerates ] [ Drumming stops ] [ Rolling on rough surface continues ] [ Metal rattling ] [ Rolling stops ] [ Metal scraping ] [ Beeping ] Piece of... [ Traffic passing ] -My, what I've been missing there.
[ Birds chirping ] [ Wheels rolling slowly ] -Hi.
-Every time I see this tent, I picture disabled performers onstage.
Disability was only part of the freak show.
There was Sara Baartman from South Africa, whose body was eroticized and studied.
There were many Millie and Christine McKoy, who were born enslaved before being sold to a showman.
Any and every identity coalesced in complex disenfranchisement... and were looked at under the brightest of lights.
[ Music plays faintly in distance ] [ Woman speaking on P.A.
system ] [ Indistinct conversations ] -May I have your attention, please?
[ Indistinct flight announcement over P.A.
system ] [ Whooshing ] [ Baby crying in distance ] [ Bell dings ] [ Luggage rustling ] -Alright, have a good one.
Thank you, guys.
Have a good day.
-Nice to see you.
-[ Grunts ] -Bye, thank you.
[ Whirring ] [ Indistinct conversations ] -Yeah.
Watch your step across there.
Can I give you that?
Please don't touch me.
[ Bell dings ] [ Indistinct conversations ] Reid.
R-E-- I grew up here in Bethel, Connecticut.
I think of it as a town that wants to be a suburb, but it's really stuck in purgatory.
My hometown's most favorite native is P.T.
Barnum, also known as the Circus King, who popularized the freak show in the 19th century.
-Who wants music?
-Carson, can you -- can you show me?
Is this your table?
-Is this your table?
-This is our table.
-Got your orders.
-[ Humming ] [ Indistinct conversations ] -Now up.
-Kels, can you show Uncle Reid what you showed me?
-What did you show me in that magazine?
[ Paper rustling ] -Oh!
-Just pull this one.
Nope, it's okay.
You can show me.
What is it?
What is it?
-What did you tell me it was like?
-Is it like Uncle Reid?
-But you've been able to see me in a wheelchair.
-How do you know that he's in a wheelchair, sweetie?
-Um... -'Cause he's Uncle Reid?
[ Laughter ] [ Birds chirping ] [ Traffic passing ] -How about Boston?
[ Laughs ] Just remember the cobblestones.
Why is there so many cobblestones?
-I don't know.
We went a while ago, and it was just freaking cobblestones.
-Oh my God.
Oh, wait, was that when we're looking at colleges?
-No, I think that was for like the camp walk or something.
-Oh, my God.
That was bad.
[ Sighs ] -Can you tell us the lollipop story?
-The lollipop story?
Oh, with grandma?
-At the mall?
-Oh, my gosh.
[ Sighs ] So, we're at the mall, and you wanted a lollipop, so I get you a lollipop, and, you know, you're in a stroller in front of me.
I can't see you, and we're -- like, everybody's staring at us.
And I'm like, "My God, like, why is everybody staring at us?
I don't get it.
[ Chuckling ] So, I look down at you, and the lollipop was, like, black or blue, and it was just all over your face and your hands.
It was disgusting.
It was everywhere.
So that's why people were looking at us.
[ Birds chirping ] [ Children playing in distance ] -Maybe I'm just stuck in purgatory here, where my movement to and fro is dependent on others.
[ Dog grunts ] [ Airplane whooshing ] [ Indistinct conversations ] -You have one new message.
-Hey, Reid, it's Mom.
Um, I couldn't talk.
I was trying to get in touch with you before Janice came over.
I just invited her over, have some dinner and chitchat.
So, she just left, so I'm just trying to catch up.
Wanted to, you know, wish you a safe trip.
I hope you had fun.
I sure loved having you around again.
And my goal in life is to get you back on the East Coast, around your family and your niece and nephew who love you so much.
So, give me a call when you're back home, safe and sound.
Alright, I love you so much.
I love you so much.
Alright, have a good night, my boy.
[ Indistinct conversations ] [ Wheels rolling ] -Hello.
-Hey, how are you?
How are you?
-I'm doing good.
[ Indistinct conversations ] [ Loud music plays in passing car ] [ Indistinct conversations ] [ Skateboard passes ] [ Indistinct conversations ] [ Skateboard passes ] -I chose to live in Oakland.
Accessing the world, for me, often means living in areas I have no initial ties to.
Urban areas with robust public transportation and continuous sidewalks.
Many times, it means moving into communities already in flux.
[ Indistinct conversations ] [ Subway trains passing in distance ] Being in Oakland is an ethical purgatory.
I have freedom of movement here, and I'm only able to live here because of my freedom of movement.
[ Soft music plays ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Indistinct conversations ] ♪♪ ♪♪ -West Oakland station.
This is the Richmond Train.
[ Indistinct conversations ] [ Beep ] [ Indistinct conversations ] -Yeah?
Act -- Act natural.
I didn't know I was getting filmed today.
-Is that okay?
-Here we go.
[ Indistinct conversations ] -[ Sighs ] -I'll just leave you in front of this painting.
[ Chuckles ] -I'll go check out the other stuff.
-[ Chuckles ] -This is actually good.
If you ever have the opportunity to be pushed around in a wheelchair at a museum, take it.
-I'm next, right?
-Or this is an octopus.
-Is it an octopus?
-Yeah, it could be.
[ Chuckles ] And then there's a lifeguard chair.
-Or is it a bunny?
Do you see?
-Could be a bunny.
-Yeah, looks like the ears.
-Right, but I think there will be an octopus by the beach, and not a bunny.
[ Indistinct conversations ] -Wait, did I ever tell you in third grade -- like, you know how I did the whole wrestling stuff?
-I vaguely remember.
-Well, I remember, we had, like, this special guest.
He was, like, some world champion whatever.
And you know, we all got to meet him, like, as -- like, just say something to him.
He's like, "Hey, kid, what do you want to be when you grow up?"
I was like, "You know, I think it'd be really cool to be president."
And I just remember him asking, "Were you born here?"
-Oh, that's so...up.
-Yeah, but, you know, as a kid, you don't really think about that, and I'm like, "No."
And he's like, "Oh, well, that's gonna be tough."
-No, but, uh... -It's alright.
Hey, I got -- I got a taste of good medicine when I was little -Yeah.
-[ Chuckles ] [ Traffic passing ] -Head southeast.
Then, turn right.
[ Bell dings ] [ Indistinct conversation ] [ Breathing unevenly ] -[ Chuckles ] [ Breathing unevenly ] Hmm.
[ Traffic passing ] [ Horn honks in distance ] -What?
[ Horn honks in distance ] [ Bus engine idling ] [ Gears grinding ] [ Ramp whirring ] [ Ramp thuds ] -Thank you.
[ Wheels rolling on rough surface ] [ Beeping ] [ Bus engine idling ] [ Air brakes whoosh ] [ Buckles clicking ] [ Bus engine idling ] [ Bus engine revs ] [ Bus door whooshes open ] [ Bus door whooshes shut ] [ Bus engine revs ] -Help keep Bay City transit safe and secure.
Report any concern to your... [ Traffic passing ] [ Indistinct conversation ] -Night after night, people would stream into the show -- some enthusiastically, some reluctantly, some who reacted to performances emphatically, and still others who were insisting on the normal desire to open their eyes to a new perspective.
[ Traffic passing ] As society became uncomfortable with the freak show, it seemed to fade away.
But were they just transformed into something else?
I can feel it when I'm stared at and when I'm not seen.
[ Soft music plays ] ♪♪ Do you see me?
♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Wheels rolling on rough surface ] The late photographer Diane Arbus wrote in 1972, "Freaks were a thing I photographed a lot.
It was one of the first things I photographed, and it added terrific kind of resentment for me.
I just used to adore them.
I still do adore some of them.
I don't quite mean that they're my best friends, but they made me feel a mixture of shame and awe."
[ Wheels rolling on rough surface ] [ Indistinct conversation ] [ Clatter ] [ Traffic passing ] [ Wheels rolling on rough surface ] [ Clatter ] [ Wheels squeak ] [ Lock rattling ] -What's up, man?
How are you?
How about you?
-What was your name?
R-E-- -Oh, Reid?
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
How's it going?
-Nice to meet you, man.
I see you around all the time, man.
I... -- Man, more power to you.
...fight's real, man.
I see you everywhere.
I see you down there.
I see you getting into Ubers.
-I mean, everyone has their...right?
-Dude, I have so much...
Anyway, I just wanted to say hi.
Hopefully, I'll see you around.
-Have a good weekend.
-Yeah, you too.
[ Lock rattling ] [ Door opens ] [ Door creaks ] [ Water running ] [ Water running into drain ] [ Footsteps ] -I keep on having this dream that I'm trying to learn how to play the guitar.
[ Traffic passing ] [ Breathing unevenly ] [ Bird cawing ] [ Up-tempo jazz plays ] [ Horn honks ] [ Rolls wheeling on rough surface ] ♪♪ [ Bird cawing ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -Heads up.
♪♪ ♪♪ Excuse me.
♪♪ -Do you need some help?
-No, thank you.
♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Wheels rolling ] Hey, is this your cord?
Is this your cord?
-You're blocking the way.
-You're -- You're blocking the way.
You're blocking the way.
[ Door unlocks ] [ Horn honks in distance ] -Thank you, sir.
-How's it going?
Thank y'all for your service.
-I'll move it right now.
-Sorry about that.
-Well, I don't know why you would do that.
-Oh, my helper did it.
He didn't, uh -- He's a young -- He's a youngster.
He didn't realize it.
-Are you gonna be coming back anytime, like -- -Yeah.
I live right there.
You can't -- -I'll be done in about 15 minutes.
-You can't block it.
This is where I live.
-I'm not trying to block it, sir.
I just got to make a couple cuts to build a break for a customer.
-Do I have about 15 minutes?
-Okay, it'll be gone after this.
[ Wheels rolling on uneven surface ] [ Buzzer ] [ Bell dings ] [ Door opens ] [ bleep ] ... [ Wheels rolling on rough surface ] [ Indistinct conversations ] [ Music plays in distance ] [ Wheels rolling on rough surface ] [ Indistinct conversation ] [ Traffic passing ] [ Indistinct conversations ] [ Horn honks in distance ] [ Traffic passing ] I wonder how many failed job attempts it would have taken for me to join the freak show.
But a cynical part of me wonders, if I had joined the show...
...I'd made a career out of pretty much every part of the camera.
[ Airplane whooshing ] [ Indistinct conversations ] -...luggage is in storage for arrival... -...power washer.
-We all want to use your power washer.
-I will trade you a plate of Italian cookies via Grandma.
-[ Laughs ] -Are you making a movie?
-Oh, my gosh.
-This one's cool.
-It's called a quartz.
-Plate of your Italian cookies so we can borrow the power washer.
-What's a quartz?
-A quartz is that white rock.
Isn't it pretty?
-Yeah, but why -- -Carson, how about you show Uncle Reid something?
Put it right there, like this.
Like that, alright?
[ Dog barking in distance ] -Yeah.
-[ Chuckles ] -Sophie.
[ Bird cawing in distance ] -No, so you have to be in front of there.
-[ Laughs ] -Can you see this?
-You want to see my glasses?
-Did you know we have the same eye doctor?
-You said Dr. Mathias, right?
-Yeah, I see Dr. Mathias, too.
-Yeah, and then I'll show you what you see.
-[ Chuckles ] -[ Chuckles ] [ Sighs ] Can I come down now?
-Do whatever you want.
[ Birds chirping ] [ Footsteps approaching ] -[ Sighs ] -Where's your recorder?
You got it over there?
-What else do I need to bring?
[ Sighs ] [ Birds chirping ] What do you think about me being a filmmaker?
-Um... -You know, I think it's -- You know, I think -- I think you're artistic, and it's -- it's the expression of your art, to film.
-Did you see how I became politicized over the past 10 years?
I understand it.
It's a little hard for me sometimes.
I guess I-I-I-I see, 'cause how much it affects you, so, you know, when it affects you, it affects me.
-Sometimes I feel like I didn't have a choice.
-I couldn't really get a 9-to-5.
I hope this is my last personal film.
-[ Chuckles ] -[ Chuckles ] -Enough about you.
-[ Laughs ] I don't know.
Sometimes I think you ended up in a spot you never wanted to be in.
-What do you mean?
-Like, when you say "politicized."
-It's just weird because... there's always some, like, isolation and being that way, being -- I don't know.
And sometimes I think I come off as really intense.
-I mean, sometimes, you know -- sometimes you say things I don't under-- I don't understand where you're -- where -- why you're so offended sometimes.
And then -- And then -- And then I take a step back, and, you know, it takes -- it gives me pause.
And then I -- You know, it takes me a while, but sometimes it's a learning experience for me.
I mean, I eventually come around and see your side.
[ Dog barking in distance ] Have you been home since I got the fire pit?
-Oh, we're gonna have to start that up later.
-Oh, that's awesome.
-Oh my God.
Just -- Just cut anything down and throw it in there.
-You got it filled already?
[ Birds chirping ] [ Wheels rolling on rough surface ] [ Footsteps ] [ Traffic passing ] [ Footsteps ] [ Traffic passing ] [ Footsteps ] [ Traffic passing ] -This monument to P.T.
Barnum went up after I left Bethel.
It was hard to shoot.
For the world's most renowned circus showman, it seemed pretty bleak, but he still got his pedestal.
[ Traffic passing ] [ Wheels rolling ] [ Indistinct conversations ] [ Wheels rolling ] [ Crossing signal beeping ] [ Wheels rolling ] [ Engine revving ] [ Wheels rolling on rough surface ] [ Indistinct conversations ] [ Wheels rolling on rough surface ] [ Indistinct conversations ] [ Slow, soft music plays ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Subway train approaching ] ♪♪ [ Subway train chugging ] ♪♪ [ Wheels rolling on rough surface ] ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Subway train chugging ] ♪♪ [ Indistinct conversations ] [ Man speaking indistinctly on P.A.
system ] ♪♪ [ Wheels rolling on rough surface ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Wheels rolling on rough surface ] [ Indistinct conversations ] [ Wheels rolling on rough surface ] [ Wheels rolling on rough surface ] -By talking inclusively about voyeurism, I treasure intricate views that make them feel uncomfortable or aware of their own voyeurism and how films and society have conditioned them to want something that they don't necessarily deserve.
When freak shows displayed disabled people, there was an extensive amount of gawking.
And even today, disabled people are often seen, not heard.
So I wanted to flip that on its head and force viewers to see my perspective while also listening to what I have to say without giving them the satisfaction of seeing what I look like.
-One of the things that makes the film so strong is Reid's very strong decision to not show his face.
It was one of the things that attracted me to work with the film, and I think it's one of the things that -- that sort of spurs audiences to think about their relationship to documentary, their relationship to documentary subjects and people that within the frame.
-There is no need to overcome disability.
But use it and use it to your advantage.
For me, it was really important to show how beautiful the world can be from a wheelchair, from this body, so I think that mentality was always with me.
♪♪ [ Soft tapping ] -"E... V... E-R... Y... Every... D-R-E-A-- dream...
I... H-A-V-E -- have... I-S -- is... in C-L-O... is in color.
E-A-C-- Each... C-O-L-O-- Each color... R-E-P-R-E-S-E-N-- represents... S-O-M-E-T-H-- Each color represents something... D-I-F-F-E-R-- something different.
[ Toy duck squeaking ] I...don't...H-- have...a... D-I-S-- disability when I... H-A-- have a... P-A-I-N--" when you have a paintbrush in your hand.
-What colors would you like to use?
I can start getting that ready.
Is this the right lavender?
-[ Claps ] -Yes.
Let's look at it.
I'll pick out a different one.
Left hand, please.
-"I D-O-- do... my art... to H-E-- help... P-E-- people... understand... the beauty... A-R-- around...
♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -"Truly, the transition is... the hardest... part of... my life."
-Get your hands unstuck.
There we are.
In the middle of a painting session, Jer.
-[ Claps ] -What's going on?
Three, two, one.
Let me know how I can help you to either stand up or relax.
[ Muffled, indistinct talking ] Let me try to help you stand up again.
Your body gets stuck sometimes in the morning.
Three... two... ...and one.
You did it.
I know your hands are stuck.
There you are.
Get some paint.
There you are.
You want more paint?
-[ Indistinct ] -"No."
Do you want to paint any other way?
"No, I...T-- I think... I-F...
I... get there, and I think I finished."
Well, awesome job, dude.
You did it great.
Three, two, one.
We just have to clean up, and you're all done.
-"I C-O-M-- I communicate... through... my... frankly nice... ♪♪ ...through my nice paintings."
♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪