Pegasus hosts screening of ‘A Whole Lott More’

Filmmaker Vincent Buhler takes questions following a special screening of his documentary, A Whole Lott More, at Kingston Road United Church on May 2. PHOTO: Andrew Hudson
Filmmaker Victor Buhler takes questions following a special screening of his documentary, A Whole Lott More, at Kingston Road United Church on May 2.
PHOTO: Andrew Hudson

Even on a small screen at Kingston Road United Church, Victor Buhler’s documentary A Whole Lott More had a big impact on the people gathered for a special screening on Thursday.

Shot in Toledo, Ohio, the film tells the stories of three people with developmental disabilities—Wanda, Kevin and T.J.—who are struggling to find or keep their jobs in a city hit hard by the US recession.

When the film opens, in 2009, both Wanda and Kevin have well paying, rewarding jobs at Lott Industries, a Toledo factory that employs some 1,200 workers who have similar disabilities.

T.J., meanwhile, has just graduated from high school and decides to look for a job outside Lott, even though his mother is on its board of directors.

The film presents no easy answers—today, Lott Industries is still in survival mode after losing a major contract for Ford autoparts—but it shows the real potential for people with disabilities to find meaningful, profitable work.

“It was very good,” says Patrick, one of the many people with developmental disabilities who came out to see the special matinee screening in the Beach, which was hosted by the Pegasus Community Project for Adults with Special Needs.

“I learned about getting a job, because I want to be independent,” he said, noting that he is now taking a job skills course at Community Living Toronto that he hopes will lead to a position at Best Buy—a company that hires one of the three workers starring in the documentary.

Buhler says he hopes the film gets more companies used to the idea that workers with developmental disabilities are worth taking steps to hire.

Just getting the film made was a struggle, he said, despite support from groups like Britdocs, the Sundance Institute and Toronto’s own Hot Docs festival, where the film debuted last week.

“Finding money for disability films is not easy,” he said, noting that A Whole Lott More took four years to shoot, largely because of the way funding came in.

“It’s hard with any film, but it’s one of those subjects that you have to invest in on a long-term basis.”

But Buhler said a harder part of filming is that when he started, he thought A Whole Lott More would be a success story.

Founded by parents of children with disabilities, Lott Industries has run for 55 years. Before the recession hit, the factory could pay all its workers the maximum salary of $10,999 that US workers can make while still receiving Medicaid.

That changed after Ford cancelled its contract.  Joan Uhl Browne, then president of Lott Industries, called on the municipality to change the Lott’s operating terms so it could hire more able-bodied workers and still keep its non-profit status.

But while Browne saw Lott chiefly as a business, Buhler said the county officials looked at it mostly as a social service and rejected the idea.

“I think, unfortunately, that is the lesson of the film—those two worlds need to intersect in the right way for progress to happen,” he said.

A Whole Lott More screens once more at the Hot Docs festival, starting at 9:15 p.m. in the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema on Saturday, May 4. Wanda, Kevin and T.J. will join Victor Buhler on stage to take questions afterwards.

For tickets, visit www.hotdocs.ca, and to see a trailer or learn more about the film, visit awholelottmore.com.


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