MY NAME IS DANIEL

★★★

A STEP FORWARD FOR DISABILITY REPRESENTATION

SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW
By Chris dos Santos
2nd June 2019

Disability is a topic that we are gradually learning more and more about as society becomes more accepting and understanding. ‘My Name is Daniel’ offers not only an insightful awareness to living with a disability, but how your upbringing can change your perspective.

This documentary is a series of Daniel’s home videos intercut with footage of present-day Daniel, now 35, still trying to work out what condition he actually has; no doctor has ever managed to diagnose it. The best way to describe his condition is that it's similar to cerebral palsy. He also directs the film, having a degree in journalism and post-graduating in documentary filmmaking, with ‘My Name is Daniel’ being his feature film debut.

'MY NAME IS DANIEL' TRAILER

The strongest aspect of the film is seeing Daniel as a child and how not only his parents but the people around him - even the children - where never disrespectful of his illness - they were always there, no matter what, always cheering him on. If he fell over at a school play, his peers were there to pick him right back up. When he struggled to walk, his whole family cheered him on. It’s really uplifting to see; normally we would get clichés like the mother crying and talking about how much of a struggle it has been, but here it was sweet to see Daniel’s family really surround and support him throughout his life and really enhance it.

‘My Name is Daniel’ offers an insightful look into living life with a physical disability but its structure could use a little more work.

While the film is just under the 90-minute mark, it does still feel a little long and stretched out. While we do get current footage of Daniel, it feels very sparing, and I would have liked a more linear story. While I enjoyed the home footage, it does take up a lot of the documentary's time and could have been edited in a more interesting way.

The biggest negative I have with the film is the ending: Daniel in a black room gives a "what if" speech - what if... he was born in a different family, was gay, was a different race. While I understand the metaphor, I don’t think they had to go as far as they did to get the audience to understand what they were trying to say. It just left me with a bit of a sour taste, and threw me.

‘My Name is Daniel’ offers an insightful look into living life with a physical disability, but its structure could use a little more work.

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