Published Jan 20, 2013A talented young filmmaker and artist, Jason DaSilva had his whole life ahead of him to hone his craft and pursue his dreams, until one day, while on a family vacation in 2006, Jason fell down on a beach and couldn't find the strength to stand back up. This moment, which was captured on film, becomes the precise visual representation of when multiple sclerosis first afflicts DaSilva.
Many would find such an ailment to be devastating and impeding, doting on it rather than adapting. But DaSilva chose to chronicle his condition, the challenges he faces and the personal triumphs he accomplishes in his deeply personal documentary, When I Walk.
At the surface, such a film would seemingly appear to be full of depressing undertones and 'woe is me' sentiment; however, DaSilva faces the challenge with optimism and a sense of humour.
Compounding the optimistic tone is DaSilva's own mother who makes several appearances throughout his film, sharing some amusing and grounding perspective—at one point she tells her son to stop whining and calls him a "whiny, coddled North American kid," reminding him that there are children in Third World countries living in shacks surrounded by garbage. Normally such a comment would come across as glib and heavy-handed, but within the context of this film, it works.
Over the span of 6 years we watch as DaSilva's condition worsens, all as he forges ahead with sheer determination. In 2008 he meets Alice Cook at a multiple sclerosis support group—her mother suffers from MS—and their relationship blossoms into something remarkable.
While the film has a rudimentary aesthetic, it's important to note that by the conclusion of the story DaSilva was unable to use his hands, relying on Alice to complete the editing on his behalf. In what could have been an exercise in self-indulgence for DaSilva, his positive outlook on life and perseverance spin an inspiring tale that will appeal to the masses, transcending the condition and making this documentary a universal tale of perseverance. (ITVS)