Nova Scotia

Bluenose-Ability Film Festival names Paul Vienneau filmmaker-in-residence

A Halifax advocate for people with disabilities is the filmmaker-in-residence at the second annual Bluenose-Ability Film Festival in Halifax.

His film, Alive Day, describes how his life changed after being hit by a tractor trailer

Paul Vienneau's film, Alive Day, will show at the Bluenose-Ability Film Festival. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)

A Halifax advocate for people with disabilities will be the filmmaker-in-residence at the second annual Bluenose-Ability Film Festival.

Paul Vienneau describes it as "Canada's only disability film festival." The free event runs Dec. 1-3 at the Halifax Central Library and showcases films from around the world from both established and first-time filmmakers.

Vienneau made headlines two years ago when he was spotted downtown breaking up thick ice from his wheelchair. Since then he's raised money for artists with disabilities, encouraged municipal staff to create snow and ice clearing guidelines and called on businesses to install automatic door openers.

Vienneau is planning to enter four films into the festival. One short film is called Alive Day and the others don't have titles yet.

"[Alive Day] is the name that soldiers, for example, would use for the day they were supposed to die. It's like your second birthday. The day that they got blown up," Vienneau said. "My alive day is Aug. 12 and it was in the year 1991."

'The universe shut off'

Vienneau was cycling in Toronto on his way to his brother's place when he got hit by a tractor trailer.

"The split second before it hit me, the universe shut off for seemingly an eternity, which could have easily been my last memory of the world," he said. 

Each year as the anniversary of his accident approaches, Vienneau said he gets anxiety and has trouble sleeping.

Alive Day follows Vienneau as he hands out bottles of water to people walking along  Halifax's Spring Garden Road. He said it's "an antidepressant in 24 little plastic bottles."

"It wasn't even by the first water given away, it was the act of buying bottles at the store. It popped me right open, it put me right back in the role of whatever it is when I'm talking to people," Vienneau said.

With files from CBC's Mainstreet