Ailbhe O’ Reilly checks out Steven O’ Riordan’s documentary which tells the extraordinary and awe-inspiring life story of his sister Joanne O’ Riordan.
Joanne O’ Riordan first appeared on the national stage by confronting Taoiseach Enda Kenny about cuts to disability funding before the general election. Since then her positive attitude and eloquence has impressed people from Ireland to the floor of the UN. Joanne is one of only seven people who suffer from the physical disability called Total Amelia, which means she was born without limbs. Joanne’s brother Steven directs the documentary and it certainly benefits from his closeness to his subject.
The documentary has a very positive and uplifting feel to it, focusing on how Joanne has overcome her disability to live a life much like her friends and siblings. We see her day to day life living with her parents, eating breakfast, getting ready for school and all the while joking with her family and friends. Steven takes the time to film Joanne’s daily chores and how different daily tasks are for her. Joanne makes a visit to the UN to speak to a group of technology experts about how technology has helped her daily life; here we see her unique personality and power to capture an audience.
The familial connection helps show Joanne’s personality and captures why she has been such a hit and inspiration to many people. The most poignant part of the film is the interviews with Joanne’s parents. We hear about their anguish and fear when Joanne was born and their struggle to bring her up against the odds. We do not see if Joanne has bad days or worries much about her future, maybe this is because she is always positive or perhaps it is the chosen tone of the film.
Either way, No limbs, No limits is inspiring to anyone who watches it and it gives us a brief glimpse into how challenging some people’s lives can be.
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No Limbs, No Limits screened on Saturday, 15th February 2014 as part of the 12th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival (13 – 23 February 2014).