The inaugural ReelAbilities Film Festival: Los Angeles 2018 has landed in Los Angeles and announced its lineup of narrative and documentary features as well as short films.
Tickets and passes will be available to purchase in early September.
The @ReelAbilitiesLA four-day festival will showcase new and classic films, conversations, and artistic programs, with 16 shorts and six features celebrating more than 13 different physical and intellectual disabilities and hailing from six different countries.
Coming to Los Angeles for the first time, ReelAbilities Film Festival is the largest festival in the United States dedicated to promoting awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories, and artistic expressions of people with different abilities. Founded more than ten years ago in New York City and now held annually in multiple cities throughout North America, the festival presents international and 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.
The festival is produced by the City of Los Angeles Department on Disability in partnership with the City of Los Angeles Commission on Disability and ReelAbilities North America.
Sponsors include Laemmle Theatres, USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center, Los Angeles LGBT Center, Mindful Properties, the Writers Guild of America, and The Ruderman Family Foundation. ReelAbilities North America sponsors include the JCC Manhattan and the Dobkin Family Foundation.
“At a time when inclusion has been moved to the forefront of the entertainment industry, issues of disability remain just out of focus,” said Stephen David Simon, Executive Director of the City of Los Angeles Department on Disability. “Now is the ideal time to bring the ReelAbilities Film Festival to Los Angeles. We look forward to celebrating these brilliant and remarkable stores with our fellow Angelenos.”
ReelAbilities strives to include all people and presents films with open captions, ASL interpretation, audio description, and CART (live captioning). In addition, all venues are wheelchair accessible.
Opening the festival on Thursday, October 11 with a blue carpet and gala is Chloé Zhao’s quiet masterpiece, The Rider. After suffering a near fatal head injury, a young cowboy undertakes a search for a new identity and what it means to be a man in the heartland of America. The Rider premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, picking up the top prize in the Directors’ Fortnight category, and went on to receive four Film Independent Spirit Awards nominations.
The festival will close on Sunday, October 14 at Laemmle NoHo 7 (5240 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood) with the Los Angeles premiere of Sanctuary, a ReelAbilities Chicago and New York festival favorite. Sanctuary is a heart-warming romantic comedy where Larry and Sophie, two people with intellectual disabilities, long to be together in a world that does everything to keep them apart. Screening with the film is animated short Macropolis, a charming story of two toys who are thrown away for being different and their adventure to be put on a store shelf.
The festival will also host a special screening of How Sweet The Sound: The Blind Boys of Alabama on Friday, October 12 at The Pico Union Project (1153 Valencia Street, Los Angeles) complete with an arts fair, food trucks, and live music.
The wildly original dark comedy Kills On Wheels, a tale of two young men in a Budapest rehab center who become involved with a wheelchair-bound hitman, will screen on Saturday, October 13 at the Laemmle NoHo 7. The film has been hailed by critics and was Hungary’s 2016 Oscar submission for Best Foreign Film.
Complete Film Festival Line-Up:
Opening Night Film
Director: Chloé Zhao
Logline: After suffering a near fatal head injury, a young cowboy undertakes a search for new identity and what it means to be a man in the heartland of America.
Once a rising star of the rodeo circuit, and a gifted horse trainer, young cowboy Brady is warned that his riding days are over, after a horse crushed his skull at a rodeo. Back home on the Pine Ridge Reservation, with little desire or alternatives for a different way of life, Brady’s sense of inadequacy mounts as he is unable to ride or rodeo – the essentials of being a cowboy. In an attempt to regain control of his own fate, Brady undertakes a search for new identity and what it means to be a man in the heartland of America.
Closing Night Film
Director: Len Collin
Logline: Larry and Sophie, two people with intellectual disabilities, long to be together in a world that does everything to keep them apart.
Larry and Sophie are in love. What could be more natural for them than to want to be alone, together? They bribe their feckless caretaker to book them a hotel for an afternoon. But Larry and Sophie aren’t any couple – they both have intellectual disabilities, and by attempting to be intimate, they’re breaking the law in Ireland. While Larry and Sophie try to figure out their feelings, their future, and how to use a condom, their friends from the training center escape the not-so-watchful eyes of their caretakers and go on a full joyful rampage through Galway. Both hilarious and heartbreaking, Sanctuary is a truly subversive piece of cinema about two young people trying to be together, in a world doing everything to keep them apart.
How Sweet The Sound: The Blind Boys of Alabama
Director: Leslie McCleave
Logline: The Blind Boys of Alabama first met in the 1930s at a segregated state-run vocational school and these friends since childhood comprise the last of the great Gospel quartets. Combining verité shot over ten years with current and archival performances the film examines the past, present and future of the group.
Legendary gospel quartet The Blind Boys of Alabama has an amazing career – since meeting at a state-run, segregated vocational institute for the blind in the 1930s, they have toured continuously, amassing five Grammy Awards and universal acclaim. They soared through the golden era of gospel in the 1950s, experienced difficult times when rock ’n’ roll took over, and resurged with the Broadway hit Gospel at Colonus. Now, as the group enters its seventh decade, they are as artistically vital as ever, collaborating with musicians like Peter Gabriel, Ben Harper, and others. As the surviving band members recount their unlikely success story, we see a rare, remarkable view of life on the road and in the studio with a group of renowned performers.
The Quiet Ones
Director: Teresa Garratty
Logline: In this murder mystery, a teacher at a boarding school for the deaf is brutally murdered, and the suspects are narrowed down to four students.
There’s something they’re not telling you… A teacher at a deaf boarding school is brutally murdered and the suspects have been narrowed down to four students. Can Detective Clarke and psychologist Dr. Barton reveal the murderer’s identity before it’s too late? Which one of the students is a cold blooded killer? It’s always The Quiet Ones.
How We Met Laurel
Director: Arpita Aneja
Logline: A young, blind Syrian asylee tells his story of how he made a life for himself in the U.S. – with a little help from the people he met along the way.
Laurel, a blind, hardworking, Syrian asylum-seeker, makes a life for himself in the U.S. as his family waits in Turkey for their own visas.
Have No Fear
Director: Marco Calvise
Logline: A day in the life of an elderly Alzheimer’s patient, experiencing nearly everything for the first time, including his own descent into dementia.
Joseph, with Alzheimer’s disease, is a patient hospitalized in a clinic. This is the story of a typical day, his routine, his reality lived in the same way, of all those things, perceived always as if it is the first time. As every morning, a nurse comes into the room to wake up Joseph, but that morning Joseph has already opened his eyes, gasping, frightened by a disturbing nightmare. Thus, his day begins.
A Grand Pursuit
Director: Will Strathmann
Logline: Vasu Sojitra is the first leg amputee to attempt climbing the Grand Teton mountains without using a prosthetic leg.
Vasu Sojitra is the first leg amputee to attempt climbing the Grand Teton without the use of a prosthetic leg. During the push to the 13,775 foot summit, Vasu and four other adaptive athletes redefine their own physical and mental limitations and will change your perception of what it means to live with a disability.
Director: Shaina Churaya
Logline: Everything is absolutely fabulous in the world of the Dreamhouse where the pink plastic Barbara is the center of attention. But when a new housemate is introduced, a doll in a wheelchair, they have to find a way to make her “fit” in.
Director: Joanna Rudnick
Logline: On Beauty follows fashion photographer Rick Guidotti, who left the fashion world when he grew frustrated with having to work within the restrictive parameters of the industry’s standard of beauty.
On Beauty follows fashion photographer Rick Guidotti, who left the fashion world when he grew frustrated with having to work within restrictive parameters of the industry’s standard of beauty. After a chance encounter with a young woman who had the genetic condition albinism, Rick re-focused his lens on those too often relegated to the shadows to change the way we see and experience beauty.
Director: Harriet Maire
Logline: Anna is a young woman on the Autism Spectrum who enjoys living a life of rigorous routine. When someone unintentionally sits on her seat on her morning bus, her day is sent spinning out of control.
Anna follows the actions and interactions of Anna, a young woman on the Autism Spectrum, and what happens when her routine is unexpectedly interrupted. Anna enjoys living a life of rigorous routine and her condition is made easier by her ability to control the little details of her day, which give her a sense of regularity. When someone unintentionally sits on her seat on her morning bus, her day is sent spinning out of control. This is a story about how Anna copes with unplanned changes to her day.
Director: Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette & André Turpin
Logline: A nurse confronts his principles when he’s asked to aid two patients in assisted sex.
A nurse working in a center for the disabled is confronted to his principles when he’s asked to accomplish a particular task.
Director: Pavel Gumennikov
Logline: Just, who lost both of his legs in an accident, chases the thieves who stole his crush’s purse.
Inspired by the incredible true story about a young man Just (24), who is in a wheelchair and who sees how the girl his in love with is robbed, so he decides to go after the thieves and regain the handbag of the girl he loves.
Director: Karim Ayari
Logline: Julius meets with his psychologist after what he considered to be a disastrous first date due to his involuntary tics.
Julius Quicklax meets with his psychologist following what he considered to be a disastrous first date due to his involuntary tics. “Perfect” is a quirky comedy about one man’s attempt to free himself of any flaws, only to learn that perfections can mean many things.
Welcome To The Last Bookstore
Director: Chad Howitt
Logline: An exploration of LA’s quirkiest bookstore, and the man who brought it into existence.
A day in the life of a bookstore owner – a father, husband, small business owner, and paraplegic – showing the store’s magnetic appeal to the community.
Children of God
Director: Ahmed Yassin
Logline: A young boy bets his prized possessions – a series of football posters – on the girl’s winning a battle-of-the-sexes football match in an attempt to gain the affections of his crush, their goalkeeper.
Amir, a young boy with a disability, sells football posters. He bets his stock on the girls’ team winning a battle-of-the-sexes football match in an attempt to gain the affections of the goalkeeper, Mariam. The girls lose the match and Amir loses the posters, but Mariam takes a shine to him and the two strike up a friendship.
4 Quarters of Silence
Director: Cody Broadway
Logline: Following the Texas School for the Deaf Rangers’ road to success, as the only high school football team serving students with hearing impairments, takes on a competitive league.
4 Quarters of Silence diagrams a journey that follows the Texas School for Deaf Rangers. Ask the school’s head football coach, players, and the athlete’s parents and you’ll find out that deafness is not a weakness, but a strength.
Director: Chris King
Logline: A severely wounded Marine returns home to his wife after months of surgery and rehabilitation.
A severely wounded Marine and his wife finally come home following months of surgeries and rehab. A powerful and realistic depiction of what it is like for our wounded vets and their spouses as they face enormously difficult times ahead.
Director: Ryan Hogan & Jackson Hogan
Logline: A first date between a deaf woman and a blind man, experienced through their alternating perspectives.
A film told entirely through the alternating perspectives of a deaf woman and a blind man undergoing the emotional turmoil of their first date.
Director: Joel Simon
Logline: Two toys made at a factory are thrown out, and together attempt to be put on a store shelf.
Two toys discarded from a factory production line. Coming to life, they chase the factory delivery can in the hope of rejoining their friends.
Keep The Change
Director: Rachel Israel
Logline: A New York City romantic comedy, Keep the Change is the unlikely love story of two people who meet in a support group.
David is an upper-class charmer struggling to hide his high-functioning autism. Forced by his parents to attend Connections, a support group for people on the autism spectrum, David falls in love with Sarah, a sheltered young woman who challenges his identity as “normal.”
The View From Tall
Director: Erica Weiss & Caitlin Parrish
Logline: 17 year-old Justine is having the worst year of her life, when she finds an unlikely lifeline in her disabled therapist.
Precocious, isolated, and relentlessly bullied by her classmates about her height, Chicagoland high school senior Justine reluctantly begins therapy in the aftermath of a messy public affair with her English teacher. After a rocky first few sessions, she forms an unlikely bond with wheelchair-user Douglas, her therapist, who nurses demons of his own. Told with a sardonic wit, The View from Tall is a tender story of self-discovery at more than one age.
Kills On Wheels
Director: Attila Till
Logline: Two disabled teenagers looking for a reason to live, team up with a wheelchaired hitman.
In this wildly original dark comedy, two teenaged boys living in a facility for children with disabilities are looking for a way out. When they befriend a gruff firefighter-turned-hitman who enlists them to be his accomplice wheelchair assassins, they enter a surreal world of gangsters and guns, all while coming to terms with their respective disabilities. With stellar cinematography, a mix of live action and graphic animation, and a dark sense of humor, Kills on Wheels successfully blends genres, dealing with the issues of invisibility, prejudice, and loneliness as it rolls on to exciting, offbeat places. Hungary’s 2016 Oscar submission for Best Foreign Film.