Kelsey Peterson Talks “Move Me”, Accessibility, and the Power of Movement [Interview]

Move Me has already started making an impact on the festival circuit. With a premiere this week at Full Frame Doc Film Fest and an upcoming showing at the ReelAbilities Film Festival in New York, it’s a project with a timely message about the ableism that pervades our world.

Move Me is a powerful and intimate look at one woman’s personal journey of grief and acceptance as a disabled woman. It’s an honest exploration of the duality of accepting that disability in itself is not a bad thing and the necessity of advocating for the best life possible.

Ahead of the premiere, I had the opportunity to speak to the film’s co-creator and subject, Kelsey Peterson. We spoke about her experience as a first-time filmmaker, the power of dance, and the need to create a more accessible world.

Of the experience of spearheading this project, Peterson spoke to the magnitude of making a film with the camera on the most intimate moments of her life. She reflected, “The cameras had to turn onto me into a really intimate and vulnerable way”. This was incredibly brave choice to serve as an introduction to the world of filmmaking.

When speaking about the process of putting this project together, Peterson spoke about how the final product was an evolution from the original concept. The initial focus was meant to be on speaking to researchers about functional recovery following a spinal cord injury. She said, “We went around the whole country for months, and got all this footage, and then realized that the story that we wanted to tell wasn’t there which was really hard but ultimately for the best”. 

Instead, perhaps the Universe intervened. Peterson became involved in using her dance background to choreograph for and be a part of A Cripple’s Dance, a group composed of dancers with various abilities. Simultaneously, she faced the loss of her father who had clearly been such a loving support in her life.

There are so many powerful and compelling moments captured in the film. Peterson reflected on a particular incident that was emblematic of able-bodied people feeling entitled essentially to the life stories of disabled people. Having experienced this first hand Peterson astutely observed, “It’s easy for us to be curious and to not think about what our curiosity is potentially doing to other people”.

Peterson also spoke to the duality of holding two ideas as truth; of accepting life as it is at this moment, while always striving for more of what life has to offer. “It can seem like this very dichotomous thing, and it is really complicated and complex”, she said. So much of the film captures this relationship perfectly, and is evidence that there’s no reason these two truths can’t co-exist.

Finally, we spoke about Peterson’s upcoming projects. A Cripples Dance is planning on going on tour in the Fall of 2022. The group’s Instagram account posts information about their current projects. Peterson is also working on a scripted series, following disabled friends navigating relationships, sexuality, and the pursuit of the arts as quadriplegics.

Move Me represents an artist’s journey of connection, grief, and self-love. It’s a journey sure to resonate with so many viewers. It’s all sure to make viewers excited for the next ventures we can look forward to from such a visionary.

Move Me premieres at 2022 Full Frame Doc Film Fest April 7, 2022 and the ReelAbilities Film Festival: New York April 12, 2022. Check out a clip from the film below!

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