Culture News

Mark Your Calendar for the 2017 Sprout Film Festival in Tempe

Australian students choreographed, scripted, and performed the short film "Heartbreak & Beauty."
Australian students choreographed, scripted, and performed the short film "Heartbreak & Beauty." Courtesy of Sprout Film Festival
In many ways, intellectual disability is the final frontier of multiculturalism. It's not always easy to introduce the world to a community that typically struggles with basic forms of communication.

Enter documentary film — particularly in the capable hands of the creators of the Sprout Film Festival, a nonprofit traveling event founded in 2003 that features dozens of docs by, for, and about people with intellectual disabilities ranging from autism to Down syndrome to lesser-known syndromes and medical situations.

On March 31, Pollack Tempe Cinemas will once again host Sprout at an all-day event co-sponsored by the Arc of Arizona and the Chandler Gilbert Arc.

Sponsors choose films from a catalog, and among this year's selections is a 14-minute Australian film called "Heartbreak & Beauty." Described as a "12-minute dance," the movie depicts a dozen students with intellectual disabilities creating "various scenes that explore the pain and joy of the human experience," according to the catalog. The result is lyrical and emotional, with lovely slow movements and bits of dialogue that explore tough issues like childbearing and sibling relationships.

This year's lineup for Sprout's Tempe event includes "Heartbreak & Beauty" and 27 other films that can be viewed over three sessions, starting at 9:30 a.m., noon, and 7 p.m. Tickets are $5 per session ($4 for groups of 10 or more), or $12 for an all-day pass, and can be purchased through the Arc of Arizona.
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Amy Silverman is a two-time winner of the Arizona Press Club’s Journalist of the Year award. Her work has appeared on the radio show This American Life and in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Lenny Letter, and Brain, Child. She’s the co-curator of the live reading series Bar Flies, and a commentator for KJZZ, the NPR affiliate in Phoenix. Silverman is the author of the book My Heart Can’t Even Believe It: A Story of Science, Love, and Down Syndrome (Woodbine House 2016). Follow her on Instagram (@amysilverman), Twitter (@amysilvermanaz), and at