'Emmanuel's Gift'


Emmanuel's Gift
Directed by Lisa Lax and Nancy Stern
First Look, opens October 21, Village East
In July 2002, Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah biked 600 kilometers across Ghana—an achievement for anyone, but especially so for a man born with only one functional leg. Of course, cameras weren't rolling for the trip—which garnered Emmanuel a degree of international renown—so this hagiographic, after-the-fact documentary flounders for other angles. Emmanuel gets a prosthetic limb in the U.S. and competes in a triathlon. In interviews reminiscent of last summer's Murderball, people like Jim MacLaren (described as "the Babe Ruth of amputee athletes" and survivor of not one but two life-altering accidents) testify to his tenacity. Emmanuel then returns to Ghana, where he's greeted as a hero and reunited with his deadbeat father, and proceeds to campaign for the disabled, an astounding 10 percent of the country's population traditionally treated as second-class citizens. This feel-good profile barely touches on the political and cultural ramifications of Emmanuel's work. Narration by Oprah increases the aura of a civics lesson.

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