ReelAbilities Film Festival Sets Lineup, Opens With ‘The Specials’

The 14th annual ReelAbilities Film Festival: New York kicks off April 7 and runs  through April 13 as a hybrid with both in-person and virtual events. ReelAbilities is dedicated to promoting awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories and artistic expression of people with disabilities.

The 2022 edition boasts a dozen features and more than 25 shorts, plus post-screening discussion, presented by Pfizer, and other events aimed at opening dialogue and discussion.

“The Specials” (pictured above), starring Vincent Cassel, Reda Kateb, Helene Vincent and Brian Mialoudama opens the festival. The drama, from acclaimed duo Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano (“The Intouchables”) tells the story of two close friends who have combined their nonprofits to train youth in underprivileged areas to be caregivers for autistic children and teens. Although the program runs into challenges the power of unity, compassion and acceptance within the program prove exceptional.

Closing night film is Brian Malone and Regan Linton’s documentary “Imperfect,” which follows an award-winning theater group comprising actors with disabilities as they prep and performs “Chicago.”

Also as part of the festival, ReelAbilities is bowing the Film and Television Accessibility Summit on April 11 and 12. The hybrid event will explore accessibility as a creative asset, from development through exhibition, and explore best practices. Industry leaders, including disabled creatives, will participate in discussions.

ReelAbilities will launch a streaming site with access to some of the best films from past festivals on April 13 (reelabilitiesstream.org).

Initiated in New York at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan in 2007, the festival has grown to present international and award-winning films by and about people with disabilities in multiple fully accessible locations throughout the New York Metro Area.

“This year’s lineup of films is our largest and most diverse program to date,” says Isaac Zablocki, director and co-founder of ReelAbilities, and senior director of film programs at MMJCCM. “We always look for authentic stories, but this year, we put an extra focus on stories in first person, that are actually told by people with disabilities.”

The festival is presented with full accessibility including captions and audio description for all films, and CART for all conversations as well as ASL.

For the full program, please visit ny.reelabilities.org.

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