More than 1200 dwarfs gather every year when Little People of America holds its national convention. In the 50 years since its inception, LPA has given its 6000 members a sense of identity and purpose, helping them cope in a world in which the confining stereotypes of sideshow attraction persist. Contrasting scenes from their daily lives with the activities of the convention week, the film provides insight into the lives of dwarfs and offers a unique perspective on the average-sized world.
58 minutes | 1984
Emmy Award Nominee, Outstanding Individual Documentary
Red Ribbon, American Film Festival, New York
CINE Golden Eagle, Washington, D.C.
Honorable Mention, Baltimore International Film Festival
Festival Award, Superfest, Los Angeles
Barbara Jordan Communications Award
The New York Film Festival
Edinburgh International Film Festival
Visions du Réel, Nyon, Switzerland
London Film Festival
Margaret Mead Film Festival
Sydney International Film Festival
Hawaii International Film Festival
Edison-Black Maria Film and Video Festival
Festival International du Nouveau Cinema, Montreal
Little People of America national convention
PBS national broadcast
The Learning Channel
Excerpt on ABC Nightline
Excerpt in “Brave New World” – ABC documentary
“… intelligent and tough-minded, and because it is, it becomes moving as well…” – New York Times
“… an absolutely wonderful, no-bull tribute to the incredible courage, humor, intelligence, and humanity of dwarfs…” – Philadelphia Daily News
“… the film overflows with tender feelings of love and understanding, it’s also chock-full of humor and wry observations…” – Christian Science Monitor
Mark is a spunky 11-year old boy with average-sized parents and siblings.
Karla is a confident 16-year old girl with dreams and aspirations for her future.
Len is a psychologist by day and a stand-up comedian by night. He coined the term “dwarf pride” in his early days as an activist for people with disabilities.
Ron and Sharon are newlyweds who hope to have children in the future.
The genesis of Little People began with a filler article that I read in a local newspaper in 1980. The three-sentence item described the “Mini-Gators”, a group of dwarfs in southern Florida who met periodically to share their experiences. The article piqued my curiosity because up to that time, I had only seen little people as circus performers. My initial research led me to the annual Short Stature Symposium sponsored at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. My co-director, Thomas Ott, and I attended the gathering and during three days of workshops, we learned an enormous amount about the struggles that dwarfs confront daily as they negotiate the physical and attitudinal challenges imposed by the average-sized world. Our next step was to attend the annual convention of Little People of America where we gained the support of the organization’s Board of Directors for the documentary we hoped to make. One year later, we embarked on a 10-week shoot, co-directing as a two-person camera-sound team. Little People premiered at the LPA annual convention a year later to an audience of 500 dwarfs and their families. The film was very well-received and those people who appeared in the film were regarded as heroes by their peers.
My goal for my films is to cause a shift in the viewer’s experience of the world, sometimes imperceptibly, and sometimes in a profound way. I learned that Little People had achieved that after meeting Richard Roud, the director of the New York Film Festival where the film had its public premiere. He shared with us his experience of previewing the film and later that same day, going to Jones Beach. There, he saw a dwarf walking along the sand and immediately realized that he was seeing that person through a completely different lens as a result of watching the film.
Producer, Director, Editor – Jan Krawitz and Thomas Ott
Cinematographer – Thomas Ott
Sound – Jan Krawitz
Sound Mix – Steve Izzi
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Jan Krawitz is available for speaking engagements with her films at conferences and universities. She also conducts master classes and presents public talks about documentary film as a Visiting Filmmaker.