Artemis Joukowsky III and No Limits Media are using film to change the world's perception of people with disabilities.
For Artemis Joukowsky III, films are a vehicle to advocate for social change.
Since founding the Boston-based nonprofit No Limits Media with business partner Larry Rothstein in 2001, Joukowsky has been a creative force behind numerous films and books that foster the idea that people with disabilities, or “different abilities” as Joukowsky calls them, have value in society.
“I learned early on that unless you were part of the media conversation, you weren’t going to have an impact,” he says. “My first and greatest love is working on behalf of people with disabilities. So, my life has been about how do you find meaning, how do you find spiritual connection, what is the gift that comes from your challenges? So in that search, the first question was, ‘Could media help us tell that story?’ ”
The goal of No Limits Media, according to its website, is to help “all people with different abilities to live lives of opportunity and achievement through a variety of initiatives, including films, videos, podcasts, television, web, documentaries, art exhibits and educational curriculum.”
“I think if you look at the voices of people with disabilities, they’ve been expressed in largely patronizing ways, and we’re trying to change that conversation, and we’re also trying to say we’re all differently abled,” Joukowsky says. “Every one of us belongs to a process of living and dying where our capabilities change over time.”
Starting No Limits Media
Joukowsky, who’s now 55, was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy at age 14. He was exposed to a broad world view at a young age. He was born in Milan and lived in Lebanon and Hong Kong before moving to New York City in 1974.
He studied for a year at Columbia University in New York, then transferred to Hampshire College in Massachusetts, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in social ecology.
His first project with Rothstein and No Limits Media was a photographic essay called Raising The Bar: New Horizons in Disability Sports. Published in 2002, the book showcases athletes, many of them Paralympians, and features quotes from athlete interviews and an introduction by Christopher Reeve.
The book became the subject of a 2005 photo exhibit at the United Nations (UN), which was visited by thousands of schoolchildren and shown to every head of state in 2006. The exhibit also became part of the advocacy effort that led to the UN’s adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in December 2006.
Joukowsky’s first film project with No Limits Media was a 20-minute documentary titled Alex’s POV in 2004, which was spearheaded by No Limits Media board member Steve Marx. It focused on Alex Freeman, an artist in residence with cerebral palsy, who was directing a film adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven.
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