Gillian Flynn
April 07, 2000 AT 04:00 AM EDT

If you soldiered through the Oscar telecast, you know Dan Keplinger. He’s the guy who jumped to the floor, literally, when King Gimp won Best Documentary Short Subject. ”He throws his arms up into this cheering gesture — he lifted both himself and his wheelchair up,” says producer Susan Hannah Hadary. ”It was this joyous thing.”

And long deferred. To make King Gimp, filmmakers Hadary and William A. Whiteford chronicled Keplinger, a Maryland-based artist who has cerebral palsy, for more than 13 years. Gimp tracks Keplinger’s pursuit of autonomy — from his preteen days through his graduation from Towson University. ”He was dealt a deck of cards — a body that was really dysfunctional,” says Whiteford, ”but it didn’t stop him from doing anything.”

Keplinger wrote the narrative for Gimp, debuting on HBO June 5, and helped winnow 100 hours of footage to 47 minutes. He’s now readying a New York show of his art and enjoying travel, like the Oscar gig. ”It’s like taking someone from the desert and giving them unlimited water,” says Hadary. ”He sucks in what he sees.”

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