ReelAbilities is the largest disability film festival in North America dedicated to promoting awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories and artistic expressions of people with different abilities. This spring, Southern is joining venues in New York, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Boston, Chicago, Portland, and San Francisco, among others, to feature films selected from over 1000 competitive submissions from an international community and reviewed by the screening committee in New York City, where the festival premieres each year in March.
Southern’s contribution to the 2018 festival — the first time the festival has been in Connecticut — is a screening of Mary and Max, a tale of friendship between two unlikely penpals: Mary, a lonely eight-year-old girl living in the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia, and Max, an obese, middle-aged Jewish man with Asperger’s, living in New York. “This film will be the first time ReelAbilities has been in Connecticut,” says Fran Prezant, of the Department of Communication Disorders, “and it will be here at SCSU.”
The film, to be screened in the Adanti Student Center Theater on March 19 from 5-7:30 p.m., has some adult content and is not appropriate for young children. A panelist talkback will follow the screening of the film, and light refreshments will be served. Admission is free. The theater is physically accessible and the film is captioned.
Initiated in New York in 2007, the ReelAbilities Film Festival presents award-winning films by and about people with disabilities in multiple locations throughout each hosting city. Post-screening discussions and other engaging programs bring together the community to explore, discuss, embrace, and celebrate the diversity of our shared human experience.
“At a time when discussions about differences and inclusion are so important in this country,” Prezant says, “recognizing the strength in diversity and challenging stereotypic notions is important.” The festival offers a great opportunity, she says, “to discuss differences rather than ‘deficits,’ bust stereotypes, and challenge long-held and often erroneous assumptions.”
ReelAbilities events have been held in over a dozen cities in North America and have expanded from the United States to Canada and soon, Latin America. Since its start, ReelAbilities has been consistently receiving an increasing number of outstanding film submissions from across the globe.
The campus screening is sponsored by Judaic Studies with contributions from Deans’ Offices: Arts & Sciences, Health and Human Services, and Education; and the Department of Communication Disorders.
With support of the SCSU National Student Speech-Language-Hearing Association and the Autism Awareness and Advocacy Club