Documentary about two women with disabilities to be shown here

Excerpted from the Journal News in Lower Hudson Valley, NY – August 2007

A short documentary about the lives of two Springfield women who have meshed their different abilities in order to live independently will be shown at the Hilton Springfield next week.

“Body & Soul: Diana & Kathy” will get its Springfield premiere at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Nov. 17.

Kathy Conour and Diana Braun, who are people with developmental disabilities, met 40 years ago. Both had been institutionalized and decided to combine their abilities to enable them to live independently. They own a home in Springfield and have become active in national and local issues affecting the disabled.

Braun has Down syndrome and Conour has cerebral palsy. Conour has very little use of her body. But Braun drives, cooks and takes care of Conour. Though she is not physically independent, Conour has good computer skills and supervises many of the tasks that go along with living independently.

Five years in the making, the 40-minute movie has been shown at festivals across the country in order to qualify it for Academy Award consideration in the short documentary category. Filmmaker Alice Elliot made numerous trips to Springfield from her home in New York City to capture the relationship between Diana and Kathy.

The movie has been nominated for the 2007 International Documentary Association’s Distinguished Documentary Achievement Award.

Tickets for the afternoon screening are $5. The evening screening cost is a $10 minimum contribution. Proceeds will be split between United Cerebral Palsy Land of Lincoln, Springfield Arc and the Springfield Center for Independent Living. A reception will follow the 6 p.m. showing.

Elliott was nominated for an Academy Award in 1999 for her short documentary “The Collector of Bedford Street.”

In 2004, while filming “Body & Soul,” she told State Journal-Register columnist Dave Bakke that Kathy and Diana are “two geniuses who have figured out how to live together in a world and a country and a society that doesn’t make it easy … These people are brilliant at making a life.”

Elliott will attend the Springfield screenings.

Tickets are available by calling Sparc (793-2100) or UCP Land of Lincoln (525-6522) or SCIL (523-2587).

Sponsorship opportunities for the screenings are available. For more information on the film or sponsorship, call 793-2100 or