ReelAbilities Film Festival at the Museum of the Moving Image

The 8th Annual ReelAbilities: NY Disabilities Film Festival is the largest film festival in the country dedicated to promoting awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories, and expressions of people with disabilities. It takes place March 10-16, 2016 at more than 30 venues around New York City including the Museum of the Moving Image, in Queens. Founded in 2007 at the JCC Manhattan, the festival now has a national presence and will travel across the country to 17 cities.

The 2016 impressive ReelAbilities lineup of 33 international films–13 features which are both narrative and documentary, and 20 shorts–includes a number of films with a scientific component:

MARGARITA, WITH A STRAW, by Shonali Bose and Nilesh Maniyar, will open the festival. A narrative coming-of-age feature, based on a true story, tells of a Punjabi teenage girl with cerebral palsy who leaves a university in Delhi for NYU.

THAT WHICH IS POSSIBLE, by director Michael Gitlin, is a documentary about psychiatric patients who use their time to make artwork at the Living Museum. The Museum was founded in the 1980s within a state-run psychiatric facility in Queens. The patients, in the Art Brut tradition, make gigantic wire sculptures, superhero paintings, miniature clay sculptures, and large panel paintings. Some dance to metal music in refashioned straightjackets and have their own band. The film explores the treatment of mental illness and the difficulty of diagnosis.

HAPPY 40th, by director Madoka Raine, is a dramatic narrative about a woman with a spinal cord injury celebrating her 40th birthday with a group of friends. The extent of her disability comes to light over the course of the weekend.

PATRICKS DAY, by writer and director Terry McMahon, is an Irish narrative film about a man with schizophrenia. When he falls in love with a flight attendant over a weekend, he breaks free of institutionalization. New situations test the impact of his mental illness on his ability to care for himself.

These are just a few of the many offerings. The Museum of the Moving Image will host a screening of all four of these movies in its Bartos Screening Room on March 12 and 13. According to co-founder Ravit Turjeman “ReelAbilities has been very proud to have the Museum of the Moving Image as a venue partner for many years.”

Each screening will be followed by discussions with filmmakers and selected experts. Accessibility aids include captions, ASL interpretation, audio description, and live captioning. The Museum of the Moving Image has information on specific screenings, and look on the ReelAbilities site for tickets and information on programs throughout the city.