Miles Turns 21

Television, 1990 (Full Length)

This documentary tracks severely disabled Miles Roelants from his 21st birthday through a year that culminates in him meeting his hero, actor Michael J Fox, in Los Angeles. Roelants was born with spina bifida and his own interviews with his parents and siblings candidly confront the challenges faced by families with a disabled child. Also featured is Shelly West (real name Michelle Belesarius) who is blind with rheumatoid arthritis; despite that she is planning a trip to Italy. Miles Turns 21 was the first of a series of documentaries featuring the pair.

Miles and Shelly Go Flatting

Television, 1993 (Full Length)

This documentary follows two young people with significant disabilities — Miles Roelants and Shelly West (real name Michelle Belesarius) — as they move into a flat together and face considerable challenges. Shelly is blind with rheumatoid arthritis, and Miles has spina bifida. The film provoked public debate at the time of screening about disabled peoples' right to live ‘normal’ lives. This was the first of several documentaries about Belesarius including the high-rating Shelly Has A Baby and Mum, Dad and Michela. She died in 2010.

To Help a Crippled Child

Short Film, 1972 (Full Length)

This 1972 NFU documentary looks at the care of children born with physical disabilities. Aimed at families with ‘crippled’ children, the film was directed by Frank Chilton for the Crippled Children Society (now CCS Disability Action). Parents, doctors, teachers and field officers are shown engaging with children and young adults at home and in the community, from spring-loaded splints for spina bifida patients to Māori stick games as therapy for cerebral palsy. It is introduced by Mrs New Zealand 1970, Alison Henry (whose son was born with a congenital foot defect).

Mum, Dad and Michela

Television, 2000 (Full Length)

This is the third documentary made about the remarkable life of Shelly West (Michelle Belesarius) who was crippled by rheumatoid arthritis as a child and blind since she was 20. After giving birth against medical odds, Shelley, and husband Dion, bring their new daughter Michela home; but they find parenting fraught with money worries and, for Shelly, the ongoing challenge of bonding with her daughter. To augment their finances, she writes a book and takes up public speaking — but a steadily weakening heart requires potentially life threatening surgery.

Julienne Stretton

Director, Producer

Julienne Stretton spent three decades documenting NZ people and culture for TV, as a researcher, producer and director. Her subjects have ranged from Katherine Mansfield and Hollywood actor Nola Luxford, to a young disabled couple in the groundbreaking Miles and Shelly documentaries. She researched major documentaries on Moriori and Gallipoli, and shared a 1992 Qantas Award for 60 Minutes

Colleen Hodge

Producer, Researcher

Colleen Hodge began her television career in the mid 1970s as a researcher on documentary series Encounter and Perspective. She was a co-founder of independent research company Bluestockings, which worked on the Feltex Award-winning Gallipoli: The New Zealand Story. After time on contract with various television departments, she formed her own production company, and began producing documentaries.