The Waterdance

Director: Neal Jimenez, Michael Steinberg
Screenwriters: Neal Jimenez

Institute History


Writer/codirector Neal Jimenez offers a quasiautobiographical portrait of what happens when your world is totally transformed in a single instant. One moment you’re a successful writer, in love, with your whole future in front of you. The next you’re in a wheelchair with your neck broken, an inhabitant of a physical-rehab center along with a lot of other men you don’t care about or even want to know. The shock of paralysis is what young novelist Joel Garcia must contend with when he awakens to find he has become permanently disabled in an accident. He faces a world where individuals who share nothing more than a tragic twist of fate must come to grips with each other, as well as their own pasts and uncertain futures. Garcia is thrust into a ward with a group of men of vastly different backgrounds and outlooks. Bloss, a racist biker engaged in a lawsuit against those he considers responsible for his accident, and Raymond, a hard-living, jive-ass black man with a troubled marriage, are the most vocal and combative fellow patients (except perhaps for the mysterious Vernon, who constantly screams for the nurses from behind a screen). The adjustments which each must make after an abrupt displacement from everyday life to a grim reality, where wheelchair battles replace fist fights, passion and fantasy redefine the sexual ego, and humor masks the agony of loss, make for a dramatic and moving tale of courage and bonding. Eric Stoltz, William Forsythe and Wesley Snipes star respectively as Garcia, Bloss and Raymond. Their relationships modulate over a course which takes them through misadventure, misunderstanding, depression and debauchery, and ultimately to solidarity. Jimenez and Steinberg are sterling storytellers, describing with humor and insight the most intimate aspects of life in a wheelchair, while uplifting us with their vision of the power of the human spirit.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards

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