Flying People

From The Fanlight Collection

Directed by Tom Collinson

24 minutes / Color
Release: 2010
Copyright: 2004

"I think what your eyesight does is confirm other senses," says James Robertshaw, a world champion kite flyer and for two years personal assistant to Rory Heap. Heap has been blind from birth, but with Robertshaw's assistance pursues his ambition for kite flying- particularly of complicated figure eight patterns. Using all of his senses except for sight, Heap learns how to fly a kite with the same dexterity that Robertshaw uses to guide him through busy city streets.

film still

Exhilaratingly flying kite patterns like he's playing a musical score, weaving gracefully through the sky, Heap considers flying, "The Eight Wonder of the World." FLYING PEOPLE questions our notions of disability, but ultimately is a simple human story about two people whose lives have come together due to their passion for flight. "[Kite flying] is not about triumphing over adversity, but realizing you've still got things to do," says Heap.

"A film about the passion for flight and the will to overcome any handicap or obstacle that might deny it, Collinson's film has the same kind of single-minded devotion as Werner Herzog's classic Little Dieter Needs to Fly… [its] power derives from its understatement, [the] ability to allow the viewer to reach their own conclusions, and the distance from the subject that is the hallmark of most good documentary filmmaking."—Shane Danielson, Edinburgh International Film Festival

"A simple, kind story about the better side of living life."—Warren Hawkes, Library, New York State Nurses Association, Educational Media Reviews Online

Other Ways to Watch

Colleges, Universities, Government Agencies, Hospitals, and Corporations

Purchase DVD for $248.00

Available for educational streaming from:

Select Accolades

  • 2004 Edinburgh International Film Festival
  • 2004 Raindance Film Festival, England
  • 2004 Microdocumentales, Chile
  • 2005 Krasnogorski International Film Festival, Russia
  • 2005 Festival Assim Vivemos, Brazil
  • 2006 The Other Film Festival, Australia
  • 2011 Western Psychological Association Conference


A moving exploration of the lives of two deaf women who have opted to have cochlear implant surgery that enables them to recover their hearing.

Lori Kuffner | 2009 | 44 minutes | Color | English