ReelAbilities Film Festival Tackles Stereotypes And PTSD

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From October 20th through November 2nd, the FISA Foundation and JFilm co-present the fourth annual ReelAbilities Film Festival, an event showcasing films about the lives, stories, and artistic expression of people with different disabilities. The lineup includes previews and Pittsburgh premieres, as well as a shorts program featuring several works from around the world. There will also be post-screening talks, presentations, and receptions. See schedule and details below:

October 20th

7 p.m.

Becoming Bulletproof

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Follow a diverse community of artists from Zeno Mountain Farm who come together year after year to make a Hollywood movie, find friendship and grow as actors and individuals, regardless of their ability. This refreshingly genuine and endearing film-within-a-film reveals a dynamic, inclusive world that transcends stigmas and challenges stereotypes, while raising important questions about the lack of artistic opportunities for people with disabilities.

Followed by a conversation with AJ Murray, an actor living with cerebral palsy, and Will Halby, co-founder and director of Zeno Mountain Farm.

October 22nd

7 p.m.

Margarita with a  Straw

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An aspiring young writer with cerebral palsy leaves her home in India to attend New York University. After a chance encounter with a fiery female activist, she begins to explore this uncharted world and its liberal sexualities. Based on the true story of a young Punjabi woman, Margarita with a Straw is a unique coming-of-age story about love, identity, and sexuality.

This screening is presented in collaboration with Reel Q.

October 25th

7 p.m.

Gabe

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A misdiagnosis as a child gave Gabe Weil a new, longer life expectancy and the unexpected gift of time. Empowered to now think about a future that he never thought he would have, Gabe embraces his passions, deepens his friendships, and finds joy in each day as he continues to manage an ongoing disability. This honest and insightful documentary reminds us all to value the time we are given no matter what our challenges.

Followed by a conversation with the film’s director Luke Terrell.

October 26th

7 p.m.

Bottom Dollars

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Since the Fair Labor Standards Act passed in 1938, American workers have been free from labor exploitation, with one exception: people with disabilities. In 2016, nearly 250,000 people with disabilities continue to earn less than the minimum wage. Through personal stories and poignant interviews, this eye-opening documentary exposes this practice while presenting new employment alternatives with competitive wages and community inclusion for workers of all abilities.

Followed by a panel discussion with local stakeholders moderated by Halle Stockton, managing editor of Public Source.

October 30th

4 p.m.

ReelAbilities Shorts Program

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Seven short films totaling 70 minutes highlight diverse themes across the ability spectrum. Includes Autism in Love, I Don’t Care, Macropolis, Midfield, Perfect, Strings and Welcome to the Last Bookstore.

Followed by a conversation with emerging filmmakers from Pittsburgh’s Joey Travolta Film Camp.

November 2nd

7 p.m.

Thank You For Your Service

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The U.S. military faces an unprecedented mental health crisis as veterans returning to civilian life find themselves unequipped to manage the post-traumatic stress and depression that is leading to veteran suicides at an alarming rate. With candid interviews including those from Defense Secretary Robert Gates and General David Petraeus, the film reveals how current policies of the U.S. military are falling short of the critical mental health needs of our veterans.

Followed by a conversation with the film’s director, Tom Donahue, film subjects Dr. Mark Russell and Phil Straub, and Dr. Rory Cooper, founding director of the Human Engineering Research Laboratories, a VA Rehabilitation R&D Center of Excellence.

All screenings will be followed by receptions including vegan, kosher and gluten-free options. There will also be an art exhibit featuring works from Reinventing the Wheel, a photography project that paired twenty-one people with spinal cord injury with 21 photographers from cities nationwide to create photo essays through a realistic, positive and creative lens.

All films and programs will take place at Rodef Shalom. General admission is $12 in advance, $15 at the door, $8 for students under age 26 with valid ID. There are also special group rates and discounts. Tickets are available online or at the door if not sold out.

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