Cuquis Robledo is the winner of the 2017 Koonz Prize for Best Alternative Project.  She is originally from Houston and studies Psychology at Duke.  She recently became interested in documentary and filmmaking after working for a non-profit called Rooted in Rights her sophomore year while participating in the DukeEngage Seattle Program. She learned about the power of video to raise awareness on disability issues and disability rights around the world. She returned to Seattle in the summer of 2016 with two grants from the Duke Human Rights Center at FHI and the RIPP/engage grant to continue working with Rooted in Rights on a new program called the Storytellers Project, where she began recruiting people with disabilities from around the world to share their stories on disability issues. Now, she is planning on working with them full time for a year when she graduates from Duke in May 2017, and then following that year, returning to North Carolina to get her Masters at Elon University in Interactive Media. 

Duke University always values its diverse student population. We have people on campus fighting for LBGTQ rights, gender rights, racial equality. But there has never been any mention of disability rights on campus, or a chance for people with disabilities to express their views on disability issues on campus and in their own lives…until now.

This movie documents six people from Duke University with different disabilities and diverse backgrounds. It was their chance to express what life for them has been like living with a disability. It also allowed them to express what people should be aware of when they perceive people with disabilities and how people can become more aware of making disability issues better.

In addition, it also shows how someone with a disability can be portrayed in a positive light in the media and can work behind the camera. There are not many people with disabilities who work behind the camera, until I started working with the non-profit, Rooted in Rights. There, I learned that there were other disability advocates who utilize the camera to raise awareness on disability rights issues around the world. My position as the Coordinator for the Rooted in Rights Storytellers Project requires me to teach people with disabilities from around the world to make advocacy videos. We send them all the basic equipment they need to film…an iPhone 6 Camera Phone.

This whole documentary is filmed using just an iPhone, showing that you have the “power in your pocket.”

Written By Cuquis Robledo ’17


Check out her project below: