The Cross the Sky Documentary

Watch ‘Cross the Sky documentary’ trailer below

Cross the Sky are proud to announce the release of a trailer for their forthcoming documentary Cross The Sky, which will have its official premiere on Saturday 1st April 2023 at Barnsley Civic, as part of Autism Awareness and Acceptance Week.


Cross the Sky Theatre Company has been part of Barnsley Civic since 2015, but has been supporting Learning Disabled and Autistic performers for over 20 years.


For the last six months, supported by funding from Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, filmmaker John Slemensek-Thorne of Studio Bokehgo has embedded himself in the company, supporting the company members to tell their own story. The resulting film, a short-format documentary, sees the group rehearse together for the first time since February 2020.

While the pandemic was very much considered a ‘collective trauma’ on an international scale, it is recognised that disabled people experienced the pandemic in a very different way to non-disabled people, being disproportionately affected by the lockdown, loneliness, access to healthcare and vaccines and the alleged societal shift back to ‘normality’ and the removal of face coverings in public spaces.

As well as exploring how the group experienced the pandemic, the documentary also promotes the creativity and talent of learning disabled and autistic people and hopes to challenge the perceptions that the public has of learning disabilities and learning-disabled performers.  

Collectively, Barnsley Civic, Cross the Sky Theatre Company and Studio Bokehgo is working together to promote the documentary to national and international film festivals.

Photographs by James Mulkeen & John Slemensek-Thorne - Studio Bokehgo

Representing both Cross the Sky and Barnsley Civic, Jason White said:

“Many of our disabled performers have impairments that have meant they have been more vulnerable than most members of our community to what happened during the Covid-19 pandemic. It also meant that the group had to shield for longer and take extra precautions before they could regroup and get back to what they love. Performing. “We now consider John to be part of the Cross the Sky family. It was a pleasure to have him take up residency with us. It was obvious from the off that he understood the group, the importance of our message and the need to amplify the voices and experiences of our disabled members.”

The film’s producer John Slemensek-Thorne said:

“A film screen is a window through which we can explore our world. I am so honoured and proud to have been welcomed into the extraordinary world of Cross the Sky. Together we have co-produced a film of great authenticity, integrity, originality, and beauty. It is all of these things because of the generosity and honesty of all of the members of Cross the Sky. They have shown their hearts and their spirits, and thanks to this, we have a film that is so sincere and heart-warming. It is truly an artefact of how wonderful humanity can be. I have loved being a part of this.”
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