New documentary challenges IQ testing and limits placed on people with intellectual disabilities

Rich Feldman and Janice Fialka

MORRIS COUNTY — A free screening of INTELLIGENT LIVES, a documentary by award-winning filmmaker Dan Habib, will take place at Mayo Performing Arts Center on Monday, October 22 at 7:00 p.m. Following the screening, a Q/A discussion will be held with Richard Feldman and Janice Fialka, parents of one of the subjects of the documentary. Tickets are available at MayoArts.Org.

The free screening at MPAC is made possible by the generous support of Bruce and Ilene Jacobs.

INTELLIGENT LIVES stars three pioneering young American adults with intellectual disabilities – Micah, Naieer, and Naomie – who challenge perceptions of intelligence as they navigate high school, college, and the workforce. Academy Award-winning actor and narrator Chris Cooper contextualizes the lives of these central characters through the emotional story of his son Jesse, as the film unpacks the shameful and ongoing track record of intelligence testing in the U.S.

“People with intellectual disabilities are the most segregated of all Americans,” says Daniel Habib, the film’s producer and director.  “Only 17 percent of students with intellectual disabilities are included in regular education. Just 40 percent will graduate from high school. And of the 6.5 million Americans with intellectual disability, barely 15 percent are employed.”

INTELLIGENT LIVES is a catalyst to transform the label of intellectual disability from a life sentence of isolation into a life of possibility for the most systematically segregated people in America.

Rich Feldman is a longtime activist, retired UAW International Staff Member, author, speaker and father of disability activist, Micah Fialka-Feldman.  He works with the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership in Detroit and facilitates tours of Detroit titled, “From Growing our Economy to Growing our Souls.” With his wife, Janice Fialka, he co-produced the TASH award-winning documentary, Through the Same Door: Inclusion Includes College about his son’s university experience. With his family, he conducts workshops for families with children with disabilities; is a contributing author to What Matters: Reflections on Disability, Community and Love (which chronicles Micah’s fully inclusive life); participated in the ADA Legacy Tour celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disability Act; and was awarded the Family Voices Life Time Achievement Award for Disability Advocacy.

Janice Fialka, LMSW is a nationally recognized speaker, author, mother, award-winning social worker and advocate on issues related to disability, family-professional partnerships, inclusion, and raising a child with disabilities.   She has co-authored the chapter, “Student and Family Perspectives” in Think College; the book, Parents and Professionals Partnering for Children with Disabilities: A Dance That Matters; and the award-winning DVD, Through the Same Door: Inclusion Includes College. Her most recent book (2016) chronicling her son’s fully inclusive life is titled, What Matters: Reflections on Disability, Community and Love.  In 2015, Janice joined the ADA Legacy Tour celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disability Act.  She is highly sought-after presenter and was named Social Worker of the Year by NASW-Michigan Chapter and the recipient of the Parent/Family Award of the Division of Early Childhood (DEC) of the Council or Exceptional Students.  For more information, visit www.danceofpartnership.com.

Dan Habib is the director and producer of INTELLIGENT LIVES, and the creator of the award-winning documentaries Including Samuel, Who Cares About Kelsey?, Mr. Connolly Has ALS and many other films. Habib is a filmmaker at the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability.  His films have been broadcast internationally, nominated for Emmy awards and translated into 17 languages. Habib gave the TEDx talk, “Disabling Segregation” and received the Justice for All Grassroots Award from the American Association of People with Disabilities.  In 2014, Habib was appointed by President Obama to the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities.

Mayo Performing Arts Center, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, presents a wide range of programs that entertain, enrich, and educate the diverse population of the region and enhance the economic vitality of Northern New Jersey. The 2018-2019 season is made possible, in part, by a grant the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as support received from the F.M. Kirby Foundation and numerous corporations, foundations and individuals. The Mayo Performing Arts Center has been designated a Major Presenting Organization by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Mayo Performing Arts Center was named 2016 Outstanding Historic Theatre by the League of Historic American Theatres, and is ranked in the top 50 mid-sized performing arts centers by Pollstar Magazine.

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