Film Challenges Limits Placed on People with Intellectual Disabilities

Jesse, Marianne, and Chris Cooper
Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Intelligent Lives, a documentary by award-winning filmmaker Dan Habib, has its Charlotte premiere at the UNC Charlotte Cone Center on March 26, 2019.

The film stars three pioneering young American adults with intellectual disabilities – Micah, Naieer, and Naomie – who challenge perceptions of intelligence as they navigate high school, college, and the workforce. Academy Award-winning actor and narrator Chris Cooper contextualizes the lives of these central characters through the emotional story of his son Jesse, as the film unpacks the shameful and ongoing track record of intelligence testing in the U.S.

Watch the trailer and register

New Hampshire-based filmmaker Dan Habib will present the documentary during three screenings on UNC Charlotte’s campus. Following the screening, Habib will be joined by a panel of experts for a post-film discussion with the audience.


  • Aimee Combs, Parent Educator, Exceptional Children’s Assistance Center
  • William Fitzgerald, Jr., Self-Advocate (10 a.m panel)
  • Allison Hall, Peer Mentor, InReach, NC (3 p.m. panel)
  • Patricia Keul, Operations Manager, Disability:IN North Carolina
  • Laura Newell, Office Assistant and Peer Mentor, InReach, NC (7 p.m. panel)
  • Stephen Powers, Police Officer, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department / Crisis Intervention Team Program for Mecklenburg County
  • Dr. Ann Stalnaker, Assistant Superintendent for Programs for Exceptional Children, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools


  • Catherine Fowler & David Test, UNC Charlotte Cato College of College of Education, Special Education and Child Development
  • Dan Habib, Filmmaker, Institute on Disability/UCED, University of New Hampshire

The event is free and open to the public. Registration is required for the screenings, which are scheduled for 10 a.m., 3 p.m., and 7 p.m.

“People with intellectual disabilities are the most segregated of all Americans,” Habib says.  “Only 17 percent of students with intellectual disabilities are included in regular education. Just 40 percent will graduate from high school. And of the 6.5 million Americans with intellectual disability, barely 15 percent are employed.”

Habib says he hopes Intelligent Lives is a catalyst to transform the label of intellectual disability from a life sentence of isolation into a life of possibility for the most systematically segregated people in America.

The event is free but advance registration is required.

Click here to watch the trailer, learn more, and register

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