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Laura Blum

Laura is a festival correspondent covering films and the festival circuit for She also publishes on Thalo



Len Collin Offers “Sanctuary” at ReelAbilities: NY Disabilities Film Festival


“Nobody thinks of people with intellectual disabilities as being sexual creatures,” says Len Collin, “but they clearly are.” Collin is the director of Sanctuary, an Irish comedy about a group of adults with cognitive impairment who visit Galway, where two of them sneak off to a hotel room. They are Larry (Kieran Coppinger), who has Down Syndrome, and Sophie (Charlene Kelly), an epileptic, and this is their first go at intimacy. Tom (Robert Doherty), their bribeable care worker, books the room. That’s because the couple’s lovemaking is against the law.

Or it was until last month, when Ireland’s 1871 Lunacy Act -- criminalizing sex outside marriage for the intellectually disabled – was overturned. Both Collin’s film and the play by Christian O’Reilly that it’s adapted from are in no small part to thank for this development. Played as much for laughs as for heart pangs, Sanctuary makes its case elegantly but indeed powerfully.

Collin makes no bones about his agenda. “Film is an ideal way to bring these issues out of the disability community and into a broader arena where change can happen,” he says. Click below for my interview with Collin at the ninth annual ReelAbilities: NY Disabilities Film Festival, where Sanctuary was the opening night film: