One year after, he began to work on When I Walk, a point-of-view documentary that chronicles his journey as the autoimmune disease progresses.
“I thought the best thing to do was film myself,” said the 33-year-old Williamsburg resident. “Everyday is tough.”
The feature-length film documents DaSilva's day-to-day experiences while he struggles to maintain a normal routine as the disease progressively takes away his ability to walk. Through personal experiences and interviews with others who suffer from the disease, it shows the ups and downs of living with MS and reveals DaSilva's tenacity to not allow the disease to steal his passion for living – and making films.
“As the story unfolds, I come to better understand the disease,” he said, “and develop strategies for the future.”
DaSilva has worked as a filmmaker for 11 years. His film, Olivia's Puzzle made it to the Sundance Film Festival, HBO and PBS and received an Oscar qualification. His 1999 feature collaborative Cuba Dreams made it to the Latin American Film Festival. Another film, A Song for Daniel, screened at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2005.
While struggling with the debilitating defects of MS, DaSilva noticed that around New York City, there weren't many places that offered accessibility to the disabled.
After a 2007 experience of having trouble finding a place with an accessible restroom, he decided to create an online tool called AXS Map, which is also featured in the film.
It allows users to review the accessibility of various types of buildings, such as determining whether there is a wide entry, accessible restrooms, and obstacles such as stairs.
“I thought why not create a user-generated map of all the places that were accessible to those with walkers, wheelchairs, even strollers?” he said.
The website, axsmap.com, also has a blog with latest news related to the disabled community.
When I Walk is set to be released in 2013.
DaSilva hopes that his film can offer inspiration to others suffering from the incurable disease.
“You have to keep going and treat everyday like it's a gift,” he said. “It's a challenge and I hope this film raises awareness.”
For more information, visit wheniwalk.com. For a preview of the film, view the trailer here.