Coming of age story of Concord-native with disability comes to Red River Theatres

  • Samuel Habib arrives at the Concord High School Prom with his date Anita DiBuono in June 2018. Karen Knowles / LikeRightNow Films

  • Samuel Habib films with his two GoPro cameras during an encounter with then-Vice President Joe Biden during the lead-up to the NH Presidential Primary in January 2020. Samuel was asking Biden about his stand on inclusive education for students with disabilities, and during his answer Biden stroked Samuel’s face, creating a viral moment. Dan Habib—LikeRightNow Films

  • Samuel Habib dances with the bride and longtime family friend, Kelsea Modelane in June 2017. Samuel, who was 17 at the time, wants to date, get married, and perhaps someday have kids. Trevor Holden—Courtesy

  • Samuel Habib recovers from deep brain stimulation surgery in 2019 next to his mother, Betsy McNamara, and his service dog, Proton. He chose to have the surgery to get relief from his uncontrollable movements and it has proved successful. Samuel’s underlying health issues often create roadblocks to achieving his goals and dreams. He’s had multiple surgeries, and countless seizures and hospitalizations. Dan Habib / LikeRightNow Films

  • Dan Habib (left) and his son Samuel take a selfie during a trail walk in Concord in 2020. They co-directed the My Disability Roadmap film. Dan Habib—LikeRightNow Films

Monitor staff
Published: 5/9/2022 5:25:42 PM

Like most 20-year-olds, Samuel Habib wanted to move out, start dating, and enroll in college.

Unlike most 20-year-olds, Habib drives a 350-pound wheelchair and lives with the looming possibility of seizures.

A short documentary chronicling Habib’s transition into adulthood as someone with cerebral palsy and epilepsy will premiere at Red River Theatres this Saturday. The short film will be broadcast on the New York Times’ website on May 17 and no subscription is required to watch the video.

The documentary follows Habib as he asks fundamental questions about his future: will I be able to leave home and live in my own place? How do I start dating? How can I earn a living without losing my benefits?

“The biggest challenge for me is getting into the homes of my friends and family members,” Habib said through a computer-assisted communication device. “Sometimes, I also get too tired to stay up late, so I miss out on going to bars, parties and dates at night.”

Using GoPro cameras attached to his wheelchair, Habib takes the audience on a tour of the United States from his point of view as he asks disability advocates for advice traversing the new stage of his life.

“Someday I want to get married and maybe have kids,” he said in the film trailer. “But first I need to figure out how to do all the things I want to do. ”

Among those interviewed are Bob Williams, the former Commissioner of the Administration on Developmental Disabilities, Ali Stroker, the first actress who uses a wheelchair to appear on Broadway, and Andrew Peterson, a Special Olympics champion.

Habib, who co-directed the film with his father Dan, said traveling across the country to do these interviews was the hardest part of making the short film.

“On our flight to Indianapolis, they turned my power wheelchair on its side both ways and it got damaged both ways,” he said. “On our trip to DC we had a 6-hour flight delay and then as we were finally boarding our plane, another passenger talked down to me like I was a 3-year-old. I wanted to curse at her but didn’t.”

The screening location holds special significance for the Concord native, who grew up attending Beaver Meadow Elementary School and is now enrolled at NHTI community college.

“It was awesome to grow up in Concord – the schools were inclusive and accessible,” he said. “When I was a kid, I could not get into most restaurants and shops downtown. But since they renovated, I am able to get into most places.”

Dan Habib said the support of the Concord community has helped fuel Samuel’s interest in journalism and filmmaking.

“Part of the reason I think Sam has such a sense of strong sense of self and such strong self-confidence is his upbringing in Concord – he has always felt like he belonged here,” said Dan Habib, who was formerly a photo editor at the Monitor.

The father-son pair will continue to work on a feature-length version of the film next year for national distribution, which will include longer segments of his interviews and dive into more of the challenges Habib faces in his daily life.

Red River Theatres will hold several viewings of the documentary in the week following the premiere. More information about showtimes and tickets can be found at redrivertheatres.org.


Teddy Rosenbluth bio photo

Teddy Rosenbluth is a Report for America corps member covering health care issues for the Concord Monitor since spring 2020. She has covered science and health care for Los Angeles Magazine, the Santa Monica Daily Press and UCLA's Daily Bruin, where she was a health editor and later magazine director. Her investigative reporting has brought her everywhere from the streets of Los Angeles to the hospitals of New Delhi. Her work garnered first place for Best Enterprise News Story from the California Journalism Awards, and she was a national finalist for the Society of Professional Journalists Best Magazine Article. She graduated from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in psychobiology.



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