In a “Crip Camp” bonus scene, disability rights activist and author Ann Cupolo Freeman, featured in the award-winning documentary, recalls her love story with husband Sam Freeman.
Following the completion of the doc, which centers on a summer camp for teenagers with disabilities called Camp Jened and its impact on people with disabilities and the disability rights movement, filmmakers James Lebrecht and Nicole Newnham conducted an interview with the couple tracing their romance through archival photos.
In the four-minute clip, Sam, who is with short stature, recalls how he had not identified as having a disability prior to meeting Ann and other people with short stature. At a Little People of America convention, surrounded by hundreds of people who looked like him, was the first time he felt “desirable.” ‘“I was struck by Ann,” Sam said. “She was independent, she was strong-willed.”
At the close of the convention, he got up the nerve to ask her out. They both liked opera and he would cook for her, so, naturally, Ann said she “fell for him.”
“I was glad to be with another person who was short stature,” Ann said. “You have your life experience, you don’t have to explain anything, you don’t have to apologize for anything — you just be.”
Sam also recalled that it was Judy Heumann, a prominent leader within the disability community also featured in “Crip Camp,” that nudged him to propose. “We’re at a restaurant, Judy has me in a corner,” Sam said. “‘Sam, you’re not getting any younger, she’s not getting any younger, what are you waiting for?’”
Sam said being with Ann helped him better understand and accept his identity as a person with a disability. “Prior to Ann, I lived in an able-bodied world,” he said. “Being with Ann and going to places with Ann and her involvement with the disability community, I actually became comfortable with myself as a dwarf.”
“Crip Camp” has already scored multiple nominations in the awards circuit, including at the Critics’ Choice Awards. The awards season contender, produced by Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground Productions, was also recently shortlisted for the Oscars.