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‘No Limbs, No Limits’ Aiming for Oscar Documentary Consideration
16 Apr 2013 : By Kevin Cronin
Joanne O'Riordan's life story to feature in 'No Limbs, No Limits'.
Joanne O’Riordan – the Millstreet teenager born without limbs but twice the personality of most people - needs no introduction to all who remember her inspirational interview on the Late Late Show, and now the documentary about her courageous life story is targeting Oscar Consideration this September.

Directed by Steven O’Riordan, Joanne’s older brother, ‘No Limbs, No Limits’ is now in post-production with the majority of filming complete and the final edit to be completed over the next three months.

Born with a condition known as Total Amelia syndrome, Joanne has overcome incredible difficulties during her life and won legions of fans with her hilarious personality.

One of her finest moments came in April 2012 when she received a standing ovation at the United Nations in New York for her keynote speech about how technology has enabled her to do things she would not otherwise be able to do – which will appear in the documentary.

Steven O’Riordan spoke to IFTN and discussed the production to date, as it prepares to enter the final stretch of post-production.

‘We’ve envisioned that the documentary should be launching in October at the Cork Opera House, who have confirmed it but we’re waiting on the exact date. The majority of the footage has been filmed. There are only two sequences left to do with two interviews. There is the trip to the UK where we meet up with a girl named Tina Stark who was born with the same condition as Joanne and the trip to the Philippines where we meet a Filipino boy, Jesus Silvia, who also has the condition.’

Mr O’Riordan hopes that ‘No Limbs, No Limits’ will also be eligible for festival consideration in the run-up to the Oscar submission deadline.

‘The ones we’re aiming at are the Zurich film festival and Toronto Film Festival, which are coming up within the timeframe of the documentary being launched. I suppose the big expectation is that we will be submitting it for Oscar consideration for Best Documentary, so that has to be in by 22nd September. RTE had originally wanted to do a joint production but if it was on TV first, it wouldn’t qualify for the Oscars. From my point of view, I have a different vision for the documentary than other people might expect.’

Derry O’Brien of Network Ireland Distribution has also expressed interest in helping to get the documentary distributed in America.

‘The documentary is very much observational in the sense that it’s following how Joanne lives her everyday life at home and yet does these extraordinary things in the public domain, like giving her speech before the United Nations. It’s a way of showing people that anything is possible, irrespective of how you are perceived with your ability. That’s the whole purpose of the documentary,’ Mr O’Riordan said.

‘No Limbs, No Limits’ has embraced a cinematic approach to filming, in line with Mr O’Riordan’s vision.

‘Obviously it’s a documentary but we want to make it bring it to another level and make it cinematic. We attached a GoPro HD camera to the back of Joanne’s wheelchair to show her eyeline, which puts everything into view of how she sees the world. I don’t show Joanne any footage because then I fear that she would predetermine what she looks like and might not be herself on camera. But she’s excited in the context that it’s been going on for a year and a half, and I’d say we’ve done 60 hours of filming.’

All eyes are now on the Cork Opera House premiere, which has been made available on a pro-bono basis.

'Joanne and I wanted to do it on home turf and the idea of having a 1,000-seater venue is the best possible way to launch it,’ Mr O’Riordan added.

An extract from Joanne's memorable interview on The Late, Late Show is available below:

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