Competition Documentary Feature
Directed by: Atin Mehra
USA, 2022, 80m
In English and American Sign Language with English subtitles
East Coast Premiere
Michelle Ricks is a survivor in every sense of the word. She reveals tremendous inner strength and resilience while relating her emotional story as a deaf and disabled woman, repeatedly traumatized by Florida’s law enforcement and legal institutions. In the system since childhood, Michelle isn’t offered protection by any of the people or institutions whose job it is to safeguard vulnerable people like her, and in fact, she is repeatedly denied accommodation as a deaf person with autism. Michelle’s trajectory changes promisingly when she meets Kim Law, a blind volunteer life coach who teaches classes to people in prison. Today, outside of prison, Michelle lives with Kim, and together they are beginning the process of healing Michelle’s past using artwork as a means of expression and communication. Ultimately, Being Michelle is an astounding and hopeful story of redemption—revealing the bonds between two women committed to thriving despite a broken system.
Incarcerated people serving life sentences in New York reveal their complex emotions around being up for parole in a state where they are usually denied.