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Reelabilities Film Festival: Films Showcase the Strength, Diversity, of Persons With Disabilities

The Reelabilities NY Disabilities Film Festival showcases award-winning narrative, documentary, and short films from around the world. The 2018 festival runs from Thursday, January 28 through Monday, February 1 with screenings at multiple locations throughout the New York metropolitan area.

The festival, founded in 2009 by disability advocate Anita Altman, also features discussion groups and community events where attendees can discuss films and explore the shared human experience of living with disability.

Reelabilities Films Explore Diverse Disabilities

Following are summaries of some of the 2018 Reelabilities films.

Among the Giants

Cory Tomascoff (USA) 23 minutes

A documentary profiling the New York nonprofit, Adaptive Design Association, which uses cardboard to build customized equipment for disabled persons. Its mission, portrayed through stories, challenges perceptions of problem solving, creativity, and community impact.

Coming Down the Mountain

Julie Anne Robinson (UK) 80 minutes

Nicholas Hoult (Skins, About A Boy) plays love-addled teenager David, whose family’s world revolves around his 17-year-old brother, Ben, who has Down’s syndrome. When the family moves from London to “the back of beyond” for Ben’s education, David’s world collapses, prompting a plan to get rid of Ben once and for all.

Henry O!

Ziad H. Hamzeh (USA) 76 minutes

Henry O! tells the story of Enrique (Henry) Oliu, a blind man who made his major league baseball dream come true, becoming an analyst for Tampa Bay’s largest Hispanic radio station. Henry’s acute hearing lets him know at the crack of the bat where the ball lands or what type of pitch has slammed into the catcher’s mitt. Beside him in the broadcast booth is his wife Deb, whispering up-to-the-minute stats in his ear.

Reelabilities Entries Reflect Global Disability Film Movement

The Hunger House

Justin Edgar (UK) 10 minutes

This short explores Nazi dehumanization of persons with disabilities during World War II.

Mary & Max

Adam Elliot (Australia) 80 minutes

A claymation feature from the creators of the Oscar winning short Harvie Krumpet, Mary & Max traces the 20-year pen-pal friendship between Mary, a chubby, lonely eight year old Melbourne native, and Max, a 44 year old, obese, Jewish New Yorker with Aspergers Syndrome, exploring adult topics, including autism, taxidermy, alcoholism, obesity, kleptomania, trust, and agoraphobia.

Nobody’s Perfect

Director: Niko von Glasow (Germany) 84 minutes

Niko von Glasow looks for eleven people who, like him, bear Thalidomide’s crippling birth defects and who have agreed to pose nude for a book of photos to give surreptitious gawkers a good, long look. Niko discovers many fascinating characters working in diverse professions, including astrophysics, acting, and politics.

Shooting Beauty

George Kachadorian (USA) 62 minutes

Fashion photographer Courtney Bent discovers a world of beauty at a center for people living with significant disabilities. The documentary follows Bent for over a decade as she overcomes her own prejudices, invents accessible cameras, and develops her award-winning photography program, “Picture This,” the story’s backdrop.

White Balance

Dorit Hakim (Israel) 45 minutes

Twelve-year-old Itamar is a passionate ice-skater who is slowly losing his hearing (and balance), jeopardizing his dream. He rejects doctor’s orders and his parents’ wish to avoid the rink until his partner, the wild and disobedient Natalie, helps him.

Zig Zag Love

Gillies Mackinnon (UK) 59 Minutes

A teenage cancer patient and a girl with cerebral palsy escape to the Scottish Highlands seeking a different reality for their unique love affair.

In just its second year, the Reelabilities Film Festival reflects a surge in films devoted to honest depictions of the disability experience and the rapid development of a new film genre.

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