The Big Apple--packed sidewalks, crowded subways, speeding taxis--millions of people racing in a million different directions, all at once. Getting around can be a physical and mental challenge even for the average person. Now close your eyes. This production is a documentary about friendship, love, adventure and discovery. It's an intimate portrait of two young blind New Yorkers who daily embrace this city. Jamil (26) and Tamesha (24) met in fourth grade. Aided by Jamil's guide dog, they demonstrate everyday courage in a city that often doesn't "see" them. The co-directors, Amy Sewell and Catherine Fenton Bernath, call this film a "visual poem, not a pamphlet" and refer to Stevie Wonder's words that "just because a man lacks the use of his eyes doesn't mean he lacks vision."
Description for this film was completed by the American Council of the Blind (ACB), Audio Description Project (ADP) and captioning was completed by Aberdeen Captioning. Captions and description are vital tools for providing equal access to students and the millions of other Americans who are blind, visually impaired, deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind.
DVD and Lesson Guide
DVD: DCMP members may borrow a DVD copy of Blindspot. If you are a teacher, parent, or other adult working to educate K–12 students with vision or hearing loss, sign up for a free DCMP membership today.
Lesson Guide: Written by a master teacher, this comprehensive guide has suggestions for use of the production.
About Jamil and Tamesha
Jamil Zuleta, 27, attended the Borough of Manhattan Community College acquiring a 2-year liberal arts degree. He is set to move out of his family home to continue his education at a university in Albany with an interest in social work and European Spanish Literature. Jamil is also considering study in anthropology because of his interest in the Mayan and Incan cultures. Jamil's sidekick is his seeing-eye dog Chip. While Chip looks out for Jamil, literally, Jamil is the first to say that Chip also has a mind of his own and has, at times, made Jamil's journeys around the city quite exciting!*
Born in Ecuador in 1984. He was born premature and when subjected to oxygen to help him survive, it burned his retinas thus limiting his sight to only shadows and light. At the age of 12, he completely lost his sight. His mother moved the family to Florida when Jamil was an infant, and then eventually to Queens, New York, in a constant search of help for her son's condition and for decent schooling. His form of blindness, the most common, is called "ROP" (retinopathy of prematurity).
*It was Chip who led Jamil astray and into the schoolyard where Catherine's youngest child attended kindergarten, and it was then that Catherine fortuitously met Jamil and decided to get to know him better and thus make him the subject of our documentary! We were lucky to later meet his good friend Tamesha who then became his "co-star!"
Tamesha Tate, 25, is currently a first year graduate student at Herbert H. Lehman College pursuing her master's degree in social work. She received her undergraduate degree in social work from the same university just last year after completing her 400 hours of work in the field! When Tamesha graduates, she wants to work with children who have disabilities in order to help them discover their potential so they will be able to take advantage of every opportunity to achieve success. In her spare time, she likes to read, watch movies, hang out with friends, and does her best to "just enjoy life." Still residing in the Bronx (New York) where she was born, Tamesha was blind at birth from ROP.
About the Directors
Amy Sewell is a writer/filmmaker/artist/activist with a passion for creating books and documentaries that are hopeful and inspirational. After writing and producing Mad Hot Ballroom (Paramount, 2005), Sewell made her directorial debut with the 2008 documentary What's Your Point, Honey? (NYC-TV Ch. 25, iTunes, Amazon.com), which focused on the state of gender inequality at a pivotal time in political history. Blindspot (2010), a documentary short about two young blind people who navigate the streets of New York City, is currently making its way in the educational market. As a writer, she motivates others to leap into the world of filmmaking with her book, The Mad Hot Adventures of an Unlikely Documentary Filmmaker (Hyperion, 2007). Her second book, She's Out There! The Next Generation of Presidential Candidates (LifeTime Media, 2009) introduces us to 35 presidential hopefuls coming down the pipeline.
Sewell is also the founder and director of Give It Up for the ARTS!, a nonprofit organization with the primary goal of exposing at-risk kids to the arts. She serves on the Advisory Board of Reel Works Teen Filmmaking Lab, is a SAVI Advocate, a mentor for the Women's Prison Association and also serves on Community Board 1's Affordable Housing and Senior Services Task Forces. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan, has an MBA, and resides in Lower Manhattan with her husband and twin teenage girls.
Catherine Fenton Bernath
Catherine Fenton Bernath is an independent producer whose work spans both television and film. Recently her projects include an original series for The Sundance Channel on East Village fashion designer GARO and the short film Blindspot, which chronicles the friendship between two young New Yorkers who are blind. She is currently developing a reality series centered on the gospel family act Forever Jones.
A graduate of the Ontario College of Art in Toronto, she lives in NYC with her husband, four kids, and dog Bear.