Jimmy - dir.Martin Smith - Review by Andrew Robertson
Jimmy is tough, uncompromising, heart-warming, smart. The film that bears his name is much the same. Jimmy McIntosh has cerebral palsy and campaigns for disability rights. In 1972 he won the vote for disabled people living in institutions. He still campaigns, and this touching documentary follows him at his work.
Directed by Martin Smith, it's part of the excellent 2011 Bridging The Gap programme. We follow Jimmy from bed to business and back again. Smith said Jimmy ought to receive a cameraman credit for the picture, and the sequences shot from his perspective as he negotiates ramps and doors and Edinburgh's snow are well constructed. Jimmy won an MBE but as we discover he is not one to rest on his laurels. Smith already has a Scottish BAFTA and his keen eye is evident here.
This is a delicately handled insight into the life of a fascinating man. Jimmy is given the chance to speak for himself and the documentary draws much of its strength from showing us what's happening; what Jimmy's ability to get out of the house by himself, to catch the bus in his wheelchair, to navigate and act as an individual actually mean.
It's touching, genuinely affecting, and an excellent piece of documentary film-making. Smith's restraint and Jimmy's drive combine to make a powerful portrait of a man and his work. It's amazingly intimate, we are with Jimmy from waking to sleeping, but it's in the public spaces that it becomes most compelling. There are so many things taken for granted that this film forces us to confront - independence, mobility, suffrage, but most importantly dignity. Jimmy has it in spades.