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The ReelAbilities NY Disabilities Film Festival

The ReelAbilities NY Disabilities Film Festival was initiated at the JCC in    Manhattan, in 2007. The festival was the first of its kind to present award- winning films by and about people with disabilities. Screenings took place at multiple venues throughout the city and they were followed by discussions that brought together the community to explore, discuss, embrace, and celebrate the diversity of our shared human experience.

The ReelAbilities Film Festival

In 2012, Cincinnati, Ohio was the first city to follow in New York’s footsteps by hosting a ReelAbilities Film Festival. Since then, the festival has spread to over a dozen cities in North America, and we have received more than 500 films for consideration submitted from across the globe. In 2014, the festival’s national headquarters moved to Cincinnati where it is being managed by a nonprofit, Living Arrangements for Developmentally Disabled (LADD), Inc.


Plans are underway for the next film festival. The 2015 version was a smash success from every perspective:

·         Unprecedented number of partners/sponsors secured and monies raised

·         We expanded to multiple venues

·         The Filmmakers of All Abilities Challenge brought phenomenal local enthusiasm and participation

·         Though there were a few issues with combining Taste of Art and ReelAbilities, it resulted in PRI surpassing our fundraising goals.

Proposal for the next festival:


Mission for the next RFF:

Expand and share films, discussions with other established festivals, while continuing to develop the local filmmakers to join our efforts to highlight workers of all abilities and/or bullying in schools.


In 2015, our effort to attract partners and sponsors was unprecedented. Ninety sponsors totaling $90,000 in funds was raised. Most donations were $500 or less. We are most grateful to all of our sponsors. Our goal for this year is secure larger donors to help take some of the pressure off meeting our budget needs. Specifically, our goal is to secure two to five major sponsors, netting $50,000 to $80,000. By meeting our financial goals quicker, we will be able to tend to other vital aspects of the festival.


General Format of the RFF:

Partner with Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival and host award-winning international and national films regarding people with disabilities. We will couple these films with the award-winning films from last year’s ReelAbilities that will relate well with the films that we bring in. That will give the film experience a much stronger local flavor and be more meaningful for the audiences. These could take place in April during the International Film Festival.

A one to two day festival will take place in the fall of 2016. These events will focus on a “Call to Workers of All Abilities” and possibly an “Anti-bullying” campaign. We feel this is a terrific next step to increase awareness about people with disabilities working in the community. Bullying continues to be painfully prevalent for people with disabilities. We believe that the RFF is an ideal way to directly address, educate and help eliminate this troubling issue.

Here are a few seminar options:

          Two days of film viewings in tpt street space, board room and Studio A along with at least two facilitated discussions each day

Add-on options:

          Tape all of the four discussions in the street space with their new robotic cameras and then do a bit of “polish” editing so that they can be streamed on the web after the event.

          Create a one hour broadcast similar to the tpt documentary “All Abilities Showcase”.  Tpt would weave winning films with filmmaker interviews into a program to air on tpt.

Additional Specific Goals for RFF 2016:

          We intend to work to tighten up a lot of the mechanics of the festival. For example, partnering with technical experts to help insure that “everything goes off smoothly.” The film society and tpt will help make this happen.

          Increase attendance: More than 1,000 people attended the first two days of RFF. Our brother and sister sponsor programs were invited to free screenings. They helped make the festival so special.

          In 2016, we will work even harder at attracting people, including students to our films and events. By moving RFF to different times of the year, schools will still be session, enabling us to realistically secure their participation. Moreover, June is not a great month because it is so busy with weddings and graduations. We are planning for partnering with the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival in April. The MN portion of the RFF will take place in October, which is Disabilities Awareness Month. 

          Increase transportation options for RFF attendees. We will work to partner with Metro Transit to secure a sponsorship to provide free rides to and from the RFF events.

          Further, we will attempt to secure additional funds to provide Uber type transportation for people that cannot access public transportation.

          Switching Public Relations firms to one that specializes in securing radio and TV station sponsorships. This will make a big difference and take our awareness level in the community to a new level.

Who is Involved?

Coming Soon!

ReelAbilities, presented by JCC Manhattan, in partnership with Ladd Inc. National sponsors: Jason's Connection , Saul Schottenstein Foundation B.

ReelAbilities: Minneapolis – Saint Paul