Tonight three UCSB alumni will present “Our House,” an award-winning documentary that follows the lives of three disabled adults living in Isla Vista.
The documentary will be shown in I.V. Theater at 7:30 p.m. and runs for 83 minutes. Tickets can be purchased at the door and will cost $5 for UCSB students and $7 for the general public. UCSB film studies graduate Sevan Matossian directed the film, which documents the unique experiences of three disabled residents of Sueno House, a supported-living house for developmentally disabled adults in Isla Vista. The documentary has won several awards across the country, including the Grand Jury Award for Best Documentary at the Nodance Film Festival in Utah, and the Audience Choice Best Documentary Award at the Cinequest San Jose Film Festival and the Nashville Independent Film Festival.
Matossian said the content of “Our House” is emotional and dramatic, and the reactions captured on camera are genuine and natural.
“It’s the real ‘Real World.’ The camera’s on all the time, the situations are real, and there’s nothing set up,” he said.
Matossian said Sueno House gives severely disabled adults the rare opportunity to experience life outside the walls of an institution. As a result, he said, residents can independently deal with the same problems that plague mainstream society, such as alcoholism, physical and sexual abuse and relationships.
After working at the house for five years, Matossian said he was inspired to capture these experiences on film, and he teamed up with fellow UCSB alumni Greg Shields and Bessie Morris to launch the project. Matossian and Shields gained nationwide attention in 2001 when they captured the aftermath of David Attias hitting five people in Isla Vista with his car.
Filming “Our House” in I.V. brought a unique and personal dynamic to the film, Shields said.
“A lot of [I.V. residents] have seen these people around town and everyone knows where this house is and it’s going to really give them an opportunity to learn what they’re all about,” Shields said.
Matossian said he was able to help the residents get used to the presence of a camera with relative ease because of his already established relationship with the house’s residents. He gathered more than 110 hours of film footage over the course of a year. The team then spent six months editing the footage down to an 83-minute feature-length documentary.
“Everyone who sees the movie is just amazed by how intelligent [the residents] are, how funny they are. It gives you a chance to really get to know some people that you otherwise wouldn’t,” Shields said.