Ed’s peculiar fascination with the alphabet has become an obsession that’s penetrated every aspect of his life. The film paints a modern day portrait of a benevolent maverick.
As a living composite of Don Quixote, Peter Pan, the biblical Job and Charlie Chaplin—Ed straddles the twisting road of fate coping with poverty and fending off homelessness on the brink of alienation from friends, family, and peers.
For Ed, like Sisyphus of Greek Mythology, it’s the struggle itself that fills his heart. Special Ed inspires and provokes us to think about the spark that keeps us going through the good times and the bad.
I began Special Ed with the rather simple intent of making a short documentary on an alphabet animation project that Ed had designed for the National Film Board of Canada to help children read, write and perform.
However, not long after I began filming, a series of events led me to follow Ed down a series of conjoined rabbit holes where over the course of three years I received a special education in a host of disparate subjects that included, among others, spelling, mayoral and federal politics, winter camping, learning disabilities, urban backyard wells, human rights, the timeless delights and perils of love and marriage, homelessness, burdock sweaters, police malfeasance and cooking with pig tails.
"Life is short", says Ed, "but it's wide".