The Moving Story of Inclusion That Is “Ian”

Credit: YouTube

I can remember sometime during my elementary school years, sitting on a playground structure of giant tires with my fraternal twin brother Bobby. We were being interviewed by a local newspaper about our experiences navigating the education system as individuals with developmental disabilities. We had Sprite cans to drink, and many yarns to spin on making friends and how we were treated by the teachers. We were oh so lucky to have plenty of support across the board. But, not every child is.

Animated short film Ian: A Moving Story tells the tale of Ian, a child with a disability who just wants to play, but is hampered at a few turns by bullies. His determination reminds me of my own, though I could be confusing his pure strength with my obsessive wearing down of others, eventually leading to inclusion in games by others being broken/annoyed – or so my father tells it. Ian follows a trend of diverse and engaging children’s stories with kind lessons to teach and high talents to showcase, much in the vein of another cartoon In a Heartbeat.

According to RespectAbility, Ian was conceived as a way for the real-life Ian to connect with his real-life bullies and potential friends, by his mother. This kind of participation in a child’s development, especially one with a disability, is absolutely amazing and a great example of the positive power a parent can wield. It’s important to note that with Ian, the kids who exclude Ian aren’t so much true blue bullies, but rather children who don’t understand how to interact with someone like him, and their natural instinct is to just not.

Ian, a wordless short, was released in November across streaming platforms and broadcast television for immediate viewing. Having premiered at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, the story of inclusion being universally possible for all isn’t just sweet, but vastly important. As Ian’s mother was quoted, this is to “guide [all children] to acquire concrete tools to be people of solidarity.” Breathtaking.

Bill Arceneaux is the lead content writer for Big Easy Magazine. In addition to this, he has been an independent writer and film critic in the New Orleans area since 2011, working with outlets like Film Threat, DIG Baton Rouge, Crosstown Conversations, and Occupy. He is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association and is Rotten Tomatoes approved. Be sure to check out his film reviews and other articles here.

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