‘I want a woman!’ roars the disabled uncle in Fellinis AMARCORD, from out of his tree and into the world. Embarrassed and helpless, his relatives attempt to silence him. This eruption resonates in THE HUMANITARIANS, where people with disabilities continue to lack agency to determine the structure of their desire and love.

Denied the right of self-determination, Jochen desperately defends himself against his sister’s personal intrusions. She confiscates his porn and rejects his attempts to express his sexuality, believing herself to know what her brother should and should not want better than Jochen himself. Sven is confined to a wheelchair and lives in an assisted living center for the mentally handicapped. Hindered by his disabilities, Sven’s search for a nonhandicapped lover is exemplary of his larger endeavour to expand his social context as he finds himself only able to pursue an active sex life via access to prostitutes.

In opposition to society’s delegation of the mentally handicapped to a space of eternal infantitude, THE HUMANITARIANS offers a more egalitarian platform appropriate to the dignity of its sincere and fallible protagonists.