“We Are People”, on Canal+: When sport makes disability exceed

A committed documentary traces more than a century of struggle for people with physical or mental disabled people to access sport.


More than a billion people are disabled, or 15 % of the world’s population. What if sport was their best vector of autonomy and integration into society? To demonstrate this, the Franco-Swiss director Philippe Fontana and the multimedailed tennis-fautuil champion Michaël Jeremiasz opted for a documentary in road-movie format, which traces this exciting and unknown pan for the history of disability-as much as The history of sport. With, in red thread, Michaël Jeremiasz’s own journey, who has become paraplegic at 19 after a ski accident.

It is in the deaf community that the pioneers of the movement are found in favor of access to sport for disabled people, at the end of the 19th e century. While sign language is controversial and the hearing impaired are considered “stupid” which make “monkeys”, the French activist Eugène Rubens-Alcais (1884-1963) founded the first cycling club of the deaf-mute , in 1899. Two decades later, will be held in the Bois de Vincennes, in Paris, the silent games, the first international sports competitions of the hearing impaired, as a prelude to the Paris Olympic Games in 1924.

a good dose humor

From country to country, never miserable, sprinkled with a good dose of humor, the film goes to meet historical actors (or their descendants) of the conquest of sport for all. Thus of Eva Loeffler, daughter of Ludwig Guttmann, a German neurologist who, after the Second World War, changed the trajectory of life of spinal cord injured by making them do sports. This doctor was the origin, from 1948, of sports competitions considered as the first paralympic games: the games of Stoke Mandeville, named after the military hospital where he worked, in England.

Through the testimony of Timothy Shriver, president of the special Olympic Games (intended for athletes with an intellectual disability), this committed documentary also highlights the major role played, in this area, by his mother, Eunice Kennedy, L ‘One of the sisters of JFK. Marked forever by the lobotomy of his sister Rosemary, Eunice Kennedy Shriver has invested all his life with people with mental handicap, welcoming them first for sports stays in the family home, the Shriver camps, before creating the Special Olympic Games in 1968.

Over meetings with champions of all eras and all disciplines, bearers of any type of disability, we discover great, inspiring stories. And athletes with an impressive charts such as the Ivorian Koné Oumar, amputated with an arm, the most medalist sportsman in the world (83 trophies), but not really recognized by his country.

It is not, however, to these high-level athletes that the word of the end returns, but to young people from Toulouse-Lautrec, in Vaucresson (Hauts-de-Seine)-an EREA (Regional Education Establishment adapted) which welcomes students with motor disabilities and valids, in reversed inclusion. “The only way to develop society is to show that we are there, to win, not to propose,” says one of them. The fight for equality by sport is not yet fully won, but the succession is ensured.

/Media reports.