Freedom 2 Roll - A Critical Review by Dr. Christian Gregory
“The documentary rips an immediate, gaping hole in our perceived problems. The opening two minutes are gripping, chilling, passionate, troubling and angering. The viewer feels the distress Joe Martinez is in. It is palpable and uncomfortable to watch. The regular annoyances we all have felt when our phone battery dies is compounded inﬁnitely when you realize, for Joe, this is not simply his phone, but this is literally his lifeline.
Joe’s story is far more common than most able bodied folks realize. Certain degrees of disability are subjective, but others are unyielding, objective and agonizing. Joe’s story is incredibly well told in this ﬁlm. It is shot in a way that takes you along on Joe’s journey. A handsome, popular, athletic and vivacious teenager, without a care in the world, suddenly has that upended — upended by doing something he adored and had so much passion for. There are inherent risks in all of our daily lives. We assess them moment by moment. We calculate which risks are worth taking and which are not. Joe’s spinal cord fracture played out in spectacular fashion, a majestic moment that in an instant turned into a colossal tragedy. However, for most debilitating traumas it is during casual life, no big spectacle that life does a 180° turn. A simple fall, a slip on the ice, a misgauged stair, an irresponsible driver, a fall off of a bed or trampoline, I can go on and on. The reality is we are human and we are not invincible. Severe disabilities are truly unimaginable by people of sound body and mind. We go about our daily lives giving virtually no thought to the daily agony some of our fellow human beings cope with. Certainly, Joe Martinez does not corner the market on pain, hurt and disability. Despite Joe’s epic challenges, he is happy, upbeat and a tenacious activist for the disabled. I’ve had the honor to meet Joe and he is truly a Superman.
The ﬁlm is shot with so much majestic Southern California beauty that you ﬁnd yourself guarded as you enjoy its tranquility because you know the devastation is about to be revealed at any moment. The cinematic recreation of Joe’s accident is almost too beautiful to depict the true horror of his injuries. There are thousands of different variables that had they played out differently Joe’s accident wouldn’t have happened. That must be agonizing. The chance combination of factors that in one moment does an about face of Joe’s trajectory and everyone around him.
For one moment, review the Capacity list here and imagine if your capabilities didn’t allow you to check any of them. From the age of 17, this and more has been Joe’s daily reality.
In an awesome display of selﬂessness, Joe Martinez’s story is not about him, it is about his activism. This ﬁlm takes you through Joe’s perspective as he guides you through the difficulties facing the disabled and how poorly written and poorly enforced the ADA laws and federal acts are. The laws and codes that are intended to protect the disabled fall drastically shortly of their mark. Through high school attendance to healthcare access, prison to activism, you see ﬁrsthand the challenges the disabled face in every facet of life.
In 2018, Joe Martinez is a civil rights warrior. He utilized his prison education to became a paralegal. He then utilized the law to sharpen the tip of his activist spear. Joe is a known commodity at the California State House in Sacramento and has his eyes set on the US Capitol in Washington, DC. In this day and age of those whose rights have been trampled for generations ﬁnally getting their voices heard, it is refreshing to see our disabled brothers and sisters getting their overdue attention and their multitude of voices heard. Joe Martinez has been a drum major for justice and a catalyst for change. Joe proves the term disabled is far from accurate.
Thank you Joe!” Respectfully,
Dr. Christian Gregory
Executor of The Estate of Dick Gregory