ReelAbilities Film Festival: NY Announces Official Lineup

The 11th Annual ReelAbilities Film Festival: New York will take place at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan, located at 76 th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, and at over 20 other venues across all five boroughs of New York City, Long Island, and Westchester and Rockland counties, making it a geographically accessible festival.  In addition, it is packed with technology to make it an exceptionally accommodating festival for those with disabilities of all kinds. Individuals requiring accommodations to participate should contact the specific screening venue directly by March 18.

 

This year is not only our largest festival, but also our most accessible to date as we continue to raise the bar on inclusive forms of film presentation,” says Isaac Zablocki, director and co-founder of the festival. “The themes of the films are more diverse than ever and the high level of storytelling makes these films relatable to everyone, with or without a disability.”

 

The opening night gala film “Moonlight Sonata: Deafness in Three Movements” premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival where it was nominated for a grand jury prize. The film is a deeply personal portrait of three lives, and the discoveries that lie beyond loss: a deaf boy growing up, his deaf grandfather growing old, and Beethoven the year he was blindsided by deafness and wrote his iconic sonata.  The film was produced by HBO, Taylor Brodsky and Tahria Sheather and will premiere on HBO.

 

The closing night film “The Drummer and the Keeper,” directed by Nick Kelley, won numerous awards including the Rising Star Award at the Irish Film and Television Awards and the Festival Jury Prize at the Breaking Down Barriers International Disability Film Festival.  In the film, Gabriel is a drummer in a promising band, desperate to hide his bipolar diagnosis from his exasperated band mates. At a therapeutic mixed-ability soccer game he’s obliged to attend, Gabriel meets Christopher, a teenager with Asperger Syndrome, and the two are forced to “make friends.”  The film will screen Tuesday, April 9 at 7 p.m. at the IAC Building, co-presented by Vimeo.

 

This year’s festival including the world premiere of “Me, My Mouth, and I,” directed by Sophie Robinson, and the New York premieres of “Nathan’s Kingdom,” “Wild Prairie Rose,” and “ Hearts of Glass.”

 

The New York festival is the launching pad for an international program and its selections run satellite ReelAbilities festival in over 20 cities worldwide.

The full lineup of the 11th Annual ReelAbilities Film Festival: New York at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan is below. Tickets go on sale Friday, March at ny.reelabilities.org or 646.505.5708.

 

FEATURE FILMS

 

OPENING NIGHT GALA AND SCREENING

“Moonlight Sonata: Deafness in Three Movements”

Dir. Irene Taylor Brodsky

90 min., USA, documentary

Tuesday, April 2, 7 p.m. | Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan

Red carpet starting at 6:30 p.m.; Gala to immediately follow screening

A deeply personal portrait of three lives, and the discoveries that lie beyond loss: a deaf boy growing up, his deaf grandfather growing old, and Beethoven the year he was blindsided by deafness and wrote his iconic sonata.  The film premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and is produced by HBO, Irene Taylor Brodsky and Tahria Sheather.

 

Opening Night Leadership

Co-chair Elisha Wiesel and Lynn Bartner-Wiesel

Co-chair Jeff Feig and Michelle Feig

Advisory council chairs David Manzano and Jordana Manzano

 

CLOSING NIGHT GALA AND SCREENING

“The Drummer and the Keeper”

Dir. Nick Kelly

93 min., Ireland, Narrative

Tuesday, April 9, 7 p.m. | IAC Building, co-presented by Vimeo

Screening preceded by gala and red carpet starting at 6 p.m.  

 

Gabriel is a drummer in a promising band, desperate to hide his bipolar diagnosis from his exasperated bandmates. At a therapeutic mixed-ability soccer game he’s obliged to attend, Gabriel meets Christopher, a teenager with Asperger Syndrome, and the two are forced to “make friends.”

 

“América”

Dir. Erick Stoll and Chase Whiteside

75 min., USA, Documentary

Wednesday, April 3, 7 p.m. | Maysles Documentary Center

Thursday, April 4, 7:15 p.m. | Lehman College

Saturday, April 6, 8:30 p.m. | Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan

Sunday, April 7, 4:30 p.m. | Museum of the Moving Image

Diego, a young circus artist, returns home and reunites with his brothers after their grandmother, América, falls from her bed. Diego is a dreamer who sees poetry and purpose in this tragedy. His dream of familial cohesion fades into reality as the brothers clash over money, communication, and the challenge of caring for América.

 

“Crazy”

Dir. Lise Zumwalt

60 min., USA, Documentary

Thursday, April 4, 6 p.m. | Mid-Manhattan Library at 42nd St.

Friday, April 5, 1 p.m. | Bellevue Hospital/NYU

Saturday, April 6, 2 p.m. | NYPL: Webster Library

Sunday, April 7, 8:30 p.m. | Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan

A young man diagnosed with schizophrenia decides to go off his medication fearing that side effects will override the drugs’ benefits. A powerful human drama that challenges perceptions about treating mental illness.

 

“Gurrumul”

Dir. Paul Williams

96 min., Australia, Documentary

Wednesday, April 3, 5 p.m. | NYU Center for Disability Studies

Wednesday, April 3, 7 p.m. | Nitehawk Williamsburg

Thursday, April 4, 5:30 p.m. | Lehman College

Friday, April 5, 7 p.m. | Maysles Documentary Center

Monday, April 8, 8:30 p.m. | Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan

A portrait of world music phenomenon Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, a blind indigenous artist on the brink of international reverence. Possessing a deep reserve of musical talent, he struggles with balancing his personal life and keeping the show on the road.

 

“Hearts of Glass—A Vertical Farm Takes Root in Wyoming”

Dir. Jennifer Tennican

68 min., USA, Documentary

*East Coast Premiere*

Wednesday, April 3, 4 p.m. | The Viscardi Center

Wednesday, April 3, 7:15 p.m. | Lehman College

Saturday, April 6, 6:30 p.m. | Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan

Monday, April 8, 12:30 p.m. | St. John's University

This film follows the tumultuous first 15 months of the operating of Vertical Harvest, a state-of-the-art hydroponic greenhouse that provides local crops as well as employment for people with disabilities. Plants and people grow together in this intimate portrait of innovation, inclusion, and community.

 

“Intelligent Lives”

Dir. Dan Habib

72 min., USA, Documentary

Sunday, April 7, 10 a.m. | Commonpoint Queens

Sunday, April 7, noon | Cinema Arts Centre
Sunday, April 7, 4:30 p.m. | Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan
Monday, April 8, 7:30 p.m. | Lincoln Center

Three pioneering young American adults with intellectual disabilities challenge perceptions of intelligence as they navigate education and the workforce. The film challenges what it means to be intelligent, and points to a future in which people of all abilities can fully participate in higher education, meaningful employment, and intimate relationships.

 

“Me, My Mouth, and I”

Dir. Sophie Robinson

59 min., UK, Documentary

*International Premiere*

Wednesday, April 3, 6:15 p.m. | Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan

Thursday, April 4, 2 p.m. | NYPL: Webster Library

Thursday, April 4, 4 p.m. | NYPL: Mid-Manhattan Library at 42nd St.

The journey of an actress with Tourette Syndrome and her exploration of neurodiversity. Artist, activist, and performer Jess Thom asks novel questions about the portrayal of disability in the arts and the exclusion of people with disabilities as cultural and creative producers.

 

“Nathan’s Kingdom”

Dir. Olicer Muñoz

98 min., USA, Narrative

*East Coast Premiere*

Thursday, April 4, 8:30 p.m. | Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan

Friday, April 5, 8 p.m. | Rivertown Film Society (JCC Rockland)

A dark fantasy drama about Nathan, a young man with autism, and his sister Laura, who has an addiction. Rather than surrender to social services, they risk it all, battling monsters and enduring mythical wars in the hope of finding a fictitious kingdom to potentially transform their lives forever.

 

“Suicide: The Ripple Effect”

Dir. Kevin Hines and Greg Dicharry

95 min., USA, Documentary

Sunday, April 7, 2 p.m. | Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

Sunday, April 7, 6:30 p.m. | Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan

Monday, Apr 8, 7 p.m. | Bedford Playhouse

At age 19, Kevin Hines attempted to take his own life by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge. Seventeen years later, he still struggles with many of the same symptoms that led him to attempt suicide, but he is on a mission to use his story to help others stay alive.

 

“Tamara and the Ladybug”

Dir. Lucía Carreras

107 min., Mexico, Spain, Narrative

Wednesday, April 3, 8:30 p.m. | Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan

Saturday, April 6, noon | NYPL: Mid-Manhattan Library at 42nd St.

Tamara is a woman with a mental disability who attempts to continue her daily routine despite the disarray in her life. Tamara’s fascination with ladybugs leads her out of her neighborhood and into the unknown, where she discovers a new reality.

 

“The Drummer and the Keeper”

Dir. Nick Kelly

93 min., Ireland, Narrative

Wednesday, April 3, 5 p.m. | Lehman College

Saturday, April 6, 3 p.m. | Mid-Manhattan Library

Sunday, April 7, 3 p.m. | Cinema Arts Centre

Monday, April 8, 5 p.m. | St. John's University

Tuesday, April 9, 7 p.m. | CLOSING NIGHT, IAC Building, co-presented by Vimeo

Gabriel is a drummer in a promising band, desperate to hide his bipolar diagnosis from his exasperated band mates. At a therapeutic mixed-ability soccer game he’s obliged to attend, Gabriel meets Christopher, a teenager with Asperger Syndrome, and the two are forced to “make friends.”

 

“The R-Word”

Dir. Amanda Lukoff

66 min., USA, Documentary

*East Coast Premiere*

Friday, April 5, 1 p.m. | NYPL: Webster Library

Monday, April 8, 6:15 p.m. | Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan

Monday, April 8, 7 p.m. | Gural JCC

The inappropriate use of the R-word can be heard every day, and continues to marginalize a population of people. This film confronts how, when, and why the R-word became so present in our culture, illustrates who it impacts, and ultimately makes the case for changing the conversation around people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

 

“Wild Prairie Rose”

Dir. Deborah LaVine

91 min., USA, Narrative

*New York Premiere*

Wednesday, April 3, 7:30 p.m. | Gold Coast

Thursday, April 4, 6:15 p.m. | Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan

In 1952, Rose Miller returns to her rural hometown to care for her ailing mother. When Rose decides to embark on a filmmaking project in her local community, she is enchanted by a local man who is deaf, and must decide if she has the courage to follow her heart.

SHORT FILMS

“Act Natural”

Dir. Luca Fox

4 min., Australia, Narrative

The battle occurring in the mind of a young man with high-functioning autism as he engages in everyday conversation.

 

“Coda”

Dir. Erika Davis-Marsh

22 min., USA, Narrative

A young dancer struggles with her identity and growing up hearing in a deaf family.

 

“Descent: In Process”

Dir. Chris Cameron

7 min., USA, Documentary

Three artists create a multimedia dance performance that amplifies the joy of wheeled movement.

 

“Hair Trigger”

Dir. Taylor Schafer

9 min., USA, Narrative

School shooting survivor Sadie struggles to reconcile the night before the rest of Sadie's classmates return to school without her.

 

“Hale”

Dir. Brad Bailey

21 min., USA, Documentary

Born with cerebral palsy, Hale Zukas is the “grandfather” of the disability movement. A born activist,he wakes up every day to fight for disability rights.

 

“Hot Flash”

Dir. Danny Woodburn

9 min., USA, Web Series

In this parody, a woman discovers that her symptoms of menopause allow her to unwittingly become a superhero.

 


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