Ladd School Film Analysis

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Several years ago, Academy Award-nominated documentarian Jim Wolpaw headed a pre-production course at the University of Rhode Island that focused on establishing a plan for a film on the Joseph H. Ladd Center (Ladd School). Once one of the oldest state institutions for the developmentally disabled, the now-demolished Ladd School is famous for its chaotic history of resident abuse. In an effort to gather the information needed to begin work, Wolpaw and his students hooked up with Advocates in Action RI (AinA-RI), a statewide Self-Advocacy organization for the developmentally disabled. Through the class’s communication with AinA-RI, an unfortunate truth began to emerge: the exploitation of Ladd’s residents stemmed from a profoundly pervasive…show more content…
“If you go through life encountering people who have no expectations for you, other than needing support...well, that has a negative effect.” When asked about any adverse reactions to the film, Wolpaw mentions that there has been some concern that he’s being too easy on the Ladd. Afterall, the institution has a grim reputation concerning the treatment of residents. “But there was a lot of good people who worked there,” Wolpaw asserts. “People tend to only share the negative, thinking it’s all anyone wants to hear,” he offers. “But good things happened, too.” Wolpaw anticipates a final product in which the history of the Ladd Center will be just one story within a greater narrative that details the filmmakers’ progress in the midst of immediate and ongoing challenges— those of film production and the continuing trials of Self-Advocacy. “It’s definitely been a challenge as a filmmaker to put this together,” he acknowledges. “I've had an evolution in the way I look at my attitude and I’d like others to experience that as well- a reassessment of their own attitudes.” When asked to expand on the attitude he is referring to, Wolpaw’s response is simple, yet deadly serious. “People have a huge problem with

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