Over the course of one school year, THE EYES OF ME captures the stories of four extraordinary teenagers at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, a public residential high school in Austin that has educated visually impaired students for more than 150 years.
An extraordinary look into the world of blind teenagers — where crossing an intersection, cooking a meal, or navigating unfamiliar areas is a challenge unlike any that sighted viewers must consider — THE EYES OF ME offers fresh perspectives on growing up, fitting in, and preparing for adulthood. Chas is passionate about creating hip-hop music. Yearning for independence, he moves out of the school dorms at 17 to live in his own apartment. Meagan, the school’s valedictorian, is also focused on her future, and has plans to begin college in the fall. Fifteen-year-old Denise is living away from her family for the first time, making new friends after years of isolation at her old school. And freshman Isaac is adjusting to being blind for less than a year.
THE EYES OF ME captures a textured portrait of these students’ lives at school, off-campus, and in their hometowns with their families. The film features stylized rotoscopic animation produced by Jason Archer and Paul Beck, who worked on Richard Linklater’s WAKING LIFE, and made with the help of the students These stunning sequences expose what the students “see” in their minds as they share their personal stories.
Forced to confront the world without sight, these four remarkable teenagers impart their thoughts, perceptions, and inner visions of the outer world. Ultimately, they reveal, you cannot understand their perceptions without challenging your own.
Official Selection, AFI Dallas Film Festival (2009)
Official Selection, Cine Sole Film Festival (2009)
Official Selection, Cinema Touching Disability Festival (2009)
Official Selection, Atlanta Film Festival (2009)
Official Selection, International Film Festival for Children and Youth Czech Republic (2009)
“The quintessential high-school film full of the requisite angst and hope and despair and joy you'll find in every single hallway and every single locker. But The Eyes of Me has its own singular twist: It's a documentary set inside the Texas School for the Blind in Austin, where Maitland gathered hundreds of hours of footage to tell the stories of four wholly distinct subjects who share but a single trait: They are blind. A remarkable accomplishment.”— Robert Wilonsky, Dallas Observer
“Keith Maitland has truly opened up the world of blindness to us, the viewers, and we can see the beauty and strength of human beings who can actually thrive in a world that we might have chosen to look away from. It’s a supremely eye-opening film that helps put problems and obstacles into perspective. And I have purposely chosen sight-driven words and images to remind us of how much we unthinkingly take for granted.”— Chale Nafus, Director of Programming, Austin Film Society
"In the PBS-aired INDEPENDENT LENS documentary, filmmaker Keith Maitland intimately portrays the ups and downs of several students at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, a specialty high school in Austin. Outgoing Denise, who has severely low vision, feels empowered when she lands a key role in a school production of INTO THE WOODS. Would - be band drummer Isaac dreams of becoming the first blind U.S. president, but inappropriate relationships with female students endanger his enrollment at school. Meagan's low self - esteem stemming from her disability spurs her excel in classes, and she emerges as valedictorian. Self-reliant Chas is proud that he has left the dormitory and gotten an apartment - cherishing his independence - but then is left in desperate straits when his roommate splits (his rap lament gives the film its title). Although very little is heard from administrators here, the teens and their stories easily carry the film, which offers a compelling and realistic look at life at the 150 -year-old school. Highly recommended." - Video Librarian
"Director Maitland invites viewers into the world of Chas, Denise, Isaac, and Meagan during a year of their lives at the Texas School for the Blind. The documentary captures the high school students’ everyday experiences as they navigate their social lives, personal challenges, and reflect their personal development. The result is a film about four unique students who are more than their disability. The documentary tells the story of the students in an unscripted, narrative style that captures their emotions and experiences... (T)his documentary helps provide much needed perspective on society’s general lack of understanding regarding blindness." - Educational Media Review