Disabled Britain on Film

From a rare portrait of the first spokesperson of the UK disability rights movement to a reimagining of becoming blind, this selection of mainly fictional films covers a range of representations of being disabled. Crucially, some of the films are authored by disabled people themselves, while others feature non-disabled actors taking on the role of a disabled character.

The idea of 'cripping up' - the equivalent of 'blacking up' - where a non-disabled actor takes on the role of a disabled person, is gaining ground in current debates about how disabled people want to be represented in film. Reflecting on the Oscar-winning performances of films like My Left Foot raises questions about what a rebooted version might look like, and whether the film industry needs to challenge itself about how to cast disabled actors into these kind of roles.

Graham Findlay (disability equality consultant)

Please note: titles in this collection may contain language or other content that reflect views prevalent in their time but that may cause offence today. They are included here for historical reasons and are in no way endorsed by the BFI or its partners.

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Sixth HappinessSixth Happiness

Biopic199794 minsDirector: Waris Hussein

Funny, acerbic and moving story of a young man's sexual awakening as family life crumbles around him.

Rent for £3.50

Notes on BlindnessNotes on Blindness

Documentary201587 minsDirector: James Spinney

James Spinney and Peter Middleton's highly original documentary uses cinematic interpretations and textured sound design to express a ‘world beyond sight.’

Rent for £3.50


Drama195293 minsDirector: Alexander Mackendrick

Alexander Mackendrick's drama about a deaf girl and her unstable family life is remarkably unsentimental while still packing an emotional punch.

Rent for £1.00


Documentary197498 minsDirector: Stephen Dwoskin

The account of a close, personal relationship as experienced by a disabled man.

Rent for £3.50

The Possibilities Are EndlessThe Possibilities Are Endless

Documentary201483 minsDirector: Edward Lovelace

A moving and haunting account of singer Edwyn Collins’s long and difficult recovery from a stroke.

Rent for £3.50

My Left FootMy Left Foot

Biopic1989103 minsDirector: Jim Sheridan

Daniel Day-Lewis won an Oscar for his extraordinary performance as Christy Brown, the disabled Dubliner who became a writer and painter.

Currently unavailable

My Feral HeartMy Feral Heart

Drama201583 minsDirector: Jane Gull

A young man with Down's syndrome is forced into care after his mother dies, in this sensitive, poignant and naturalistic drama.

Rent for £2.50

Trying to Kiss the MoonTrying to Kiss the Moon

Animation & Artists Moving Image199496 minsDirector: Stephen Dwoskin

Autobiographical film by the veteran disabled experimental filmmaker, Steve Dwoskin.

Rent for £1.00


Drama197433 minsDirector: Alan Parker

Mollie has been left with highly sensitive hearing after an attack. In her boarding house room she "witnesses" a murder by hearing strange footsteps.

Rent for £1.00


Drama200825 minsDirector: Ian Clark

A girl in love, a pop star in peril and a gang on the run - watch it play out!

Currently unavailable

No FutureNo Future

Documentary195813 minsDirector: Rollo Gamble

Despite the bleak title, there is some hope in this film about disabled schoolchildren.

Rent for £3.50

The OutsiderThe Outsider

Medical drama193991 minsDirector: Paul L. Stein

Paul L. Stein's gripping and romantic The Outsider features a famed osteopath (George Sanders) who treats a young disabled woman (Mary Maguire) with his unconventional methods - only to fall in love with her.

Rent for £3.50

The Raging MoonThe Raging Moon

Drama1971112 minsDirector: Bryan Forbes

Sensitive and ground-breaking romance between couple who are both wheelchair users, played by Malcolm McDowell and Nanette Newman.

Currently unavailable


Documentary195813 minsDirector: Rollo Gamble

Daniel Farson meets people affected by polio in a series of studio interviews and a filmed report with a man paralysed after contracting the disease.

Rent for £2.50

Some VoicesSome Voices

Comedy200197 minsDirector: Simon Cellan Jones

Daniel Craig impresses in a tough but sensitive portrait of a man living with schizophrenia

Currently unavailable


Documentary195814 minsDirector: Rollo Gamble

Daniel Farson interviews people affected by epilepsy and discusses the social stigma attached to the condition.

Rent for £3.50


Drama198273 minsDirector: Stephen Frears

Ian McKellen stars in Stephen Frears' TV play as Walter, a man with learning difficulties who's put in an institution after the death of his mother.

Rent for £3.50

Walter and JuneWalter and June

Drama198365 minsDirector: Stephen Frears

Ian McKellen and Stephen Frears reunite for the sequel to their TV play Walter. The titular character (McKellen) meets a young mother (Sarah Miles) who is suicidally depressed; the two support one another to cope with life in a closed institution.

Currently unavailable


Documentary196714 minsDirector: Vic Hughes

Paul Hunt, the Rosa Parks of the UK disability rights movement, talks about living in a disabling society.

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