reelabilities film festival, people with disabilities
Zack Gottsagen, left, as Zak and Shia LaBeouf as Tyler in "The Peanut Butter Falcon." (Photo credit: Seth Johnson/Signature/Kobal/Shutterstock)

ReelAbilities Film Festival Highlights People with Disabilities

With Hollywood still dismissing filmmakers with disabilities, one film festival is dedicating itself to giving these artists an opportunity to jump-start their careers. The ReelAbilities Film Festival, which held a three-day event in Los Angeles this past weekend, celebrates awareness and the power of film to shatter misconceptions about the capabilities of people with disabilities.

Starting in New York 12 years ago, it is the first film festival to exclusively spotlight a series of award-winning films that are both made by and about people with disabilities.

In 2012, the organization grew beyond the Big Apple, with other cities across the United States hosting festivals, starting with Cincinnati. Since then, ReelAbilities North America became ReelAbilities International, and now the organization has hosted events in 20 cities across the world.

The ReelAbilities Film Festival Los Angeles opened with “The Peanut Butter Falcon,” starring Shia LeBeouf and Zack Gottsagen, an actor with Down syndrome.

The festival does more than just show films. It also goes beyond the films to discuss real issues that plague the disability community. ReelAbilities Film Festival screens its movies to schools, corporate offices and community-based organizations throughout the year.

For too long, the film industry has profited from the practice of hiring prominent actors without disabilities to play roles of characters with disabilities.

“It’s important to tell these stories and to tell them authentically,” Danny Woodburn, a little person known for his work in Seinfeld, among other TV shows and films, told KABC-TV, the Los Angeles ABC affiliate. “If we look at The Academy Awards, 61 nominees over the history of The Academy Awards have been for actors who have played characters that have disability. Twenty-seven of those actors are winners. Two are actually people with disability — Harold Russell and Marlee Matlin.”

Related Article: ‘This Close’: Getting People with Disabilities on the Big Screen

Michael Dougherty, who lives with spina bifida, is the co-director of the ReelAbilities Film Festival. For Dougherty, movies are not just his passion, they are his saving grace. He told KABC that they saved his life by providing “a window into a world that was beyond hospitals.”

Latest News

Syracuse University campus

News Roundup: TV Diversity, Syracuse Hire, and Segregated Training

Check out our news roundup of diversity and inclusion updates and insights from across the U.S.: Syracuse University Creates Athletics Diversity Position  While most colleges and universities around the county are making COVID-19-related cuts in regard to their athletic departments, Syracuse University has hired Salatha T. Willis as the associate athletic…

What Friends Tell Friends: Choose Kaiser Permanente

Originally published on about.kaiserpermanente.org. Integrated, nonprofit health plan tops NICE Satmetrix customer experience benchmark study for 10th straight year. For the 10th year in a row, more people would recommend Kaiser Permanente to a friend or colleague than any other health plan in the nation, according to the recently released…

Mastercard Expands ShopOpenings.com to the U.S. & Canada, Delivering a Search Tool That Identifies What Stores Near You Are Open for Business

Originally published on mastercardcontentexchange.com. Search solution complements new Digital Acceleration for Small Business global initiative which helps small businesses advance digitally and drive online commerce As businesses seek to draw customers back both in store and online, Mastercard is introducing new tools to support them. Today, Mastercard announced the geographic…

TIAA Launches Programs to Raise Awareness of Racial Injustice and Support Communities in Need through the “Be The Change” Initiative

On June 30, TIAA announced new virtual programs designed to raise awareness of racial injustice and support communities in need as a part of the company’s recently launched “Be the Change” initiative. One is TIAA’s “Race Against Racism,” an effort in support of The Innocence Project which included more than…

Stop TB Partnership and Johnson & Johnson, with support from USAID and The Global Fund, Announce Price Reduction for SIRTURO® (bedaquiline) for Treatment of Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

Originally published on jnj.com. Joint efforts aim to accelerate scale-up of WHO-recommended all-oral treatment regimens – a transition urgently needed to help protect the health of people with drug resistant-tuberculosis who are particularly vulnerable during COVID-19 pandemic In 2020, the initiative aims to reach at least 125,000 patients and could…

Toyota, Alabama A&M and Huntsville Hospital Collaborate to Make COVID-19 Testing Easier

Originally published on pressroom.toyota.com. $100,000 grant provides free service to the community Alabama A & M University (AAMU), Huntsville Hospital and Toyota are developing a mobile health clinic initiative to provide free COVID-19 testing to underserved communities in Madison County. Launching later this year, the mobile medical clinic program has…

Sanofi and Regeneron Provide Update on Kevzara® (sarilumab) Phase 3 U.S. Trial in COVID-19 Patients

Originally published on sanofi.com. Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: REGN) today announced that the U.S. Phase 3 trial of Kevzara® (sarilumab) 400 mg in COVID-19 patients requiring mechanical ventilation did not meet its primary and key secondary endpoints when Kevzara was added to best supportive care compared to best supportive care alone (placebo)….