Everyone loves doing what they love; for two-time world champion, Maureen Beck, it’s climbing competitively. But to think this short film is just another climbing film would be an unconscious assumption. Stumped (dir. Cedar Wright and Taylor Keating, 2017) is a short film about Maureen completing her goal of climbing a 5.12 level grade and addressing underlying issues that people presume about women and the “disabled” community.
The audience is introduced to the film by Maureen exaggerating about different exotic, yet comical ways to how she lost her arm like, “grabbing a fork that fell down the garbage disposal,” and “alligators should not be allowed at petting zoos.” This approach for the establishment of the subject is successful; therefore, setting the witty tone of the film. The directors capture her personality of letting loose and shotgunning beers on mountains to aid the audience in a enlightening desire, granting film what it wanted to achieve.
Maureen does not what people to pity her or admire her, she just wants people to like her for her and not let being born without her lower left arm get in her way. As a climber, it is a challenge to climb high grade courses when one are is a stump but Maureen views climbing as, “We don’t climb to be special, we don’t climb to win some silly awards. We climb because we love climbing just like everybody else”.
Stumped addresses women stereotypes like others at Mountainfilm such as RBG (dir. Julie Cohen and Betsy West, 2017), the epic story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg developing her breathtaking legacy and influences in women’s rights. Another being Time for Ilhan (dir. Norah Shapiro, 2017), tackling the office, Illan Omar, becoming the first Somali-American to win a legislative office position. All three women can be compared in that they are driven through themselves and not influenced by others, a big message Mountainfilm stresses. Maureen expresses, “I don’t want to be good for a girl, I don’t want to be good for having just one hand, I just want to be good, period”. She doesn’t want to be called inspiring just for doing something most people can do, she wants to be inspiring for doing something most people can’t do.
The story is demonstrated through the participatory and expository modes because of Maureen and her friends volunteering to direct a message to the public about the disabled community and the use of the standard documentary style through interviews and footage of the subject. One unusual feature in the short is that mockumentary within the documentary. While Maureen sets out in the quest to climb a 5.12 grade course, director, Taylor Keating, thought that in order to educate the audience on the type of profiling of disabling, they decided to make a hilarious mockumentary through her quest that demonstrated the absurd exaggeration of the media’s perspective of disabled athletes.
The cinematography was impressive because in order to get great camera work, the directors were also climbing to get the shots they wanted for the film. Many arial and drone shots were also provided to create variey in the footage. Maureen struggled with one part of the course and failed just about every time she tried it. I appreciate that whenever she approached the spot, the camera was in the same spot so it made it intriguing when there was a montage of Maureen falling different days at the same spot made it visually appealing.
Overall, Stumped is a film that changes people’s perspective on female athletes but also disabled athletes. The directors allow the audience to fully understand what Maureen is emphasizing about disabled athletes. Fueled by goals and motivation from her quirky friends, Maureen gives a lesson in what true grit is.