ReelAbilities: NY Disabilities Film Festival is the largest festival of its kind in the country. We present films by and about people with disabilities and share the lives, stories and experiences with the broad NY community, featuring in over 30 locations throughout NY and in 14 additional major cities nationwide. The festival was started and is run out of the JCC in Manhattan and supported by UJA Federation, yet it is not specifically a Jewish festival. It presents films from across the spectrum of disabilities and is as inclusive as possible. So why is this festival being supported by the Jewish community?
I feel this festival connects in a few ways. The first and most obvious is the concept of Btzelem Elohim that we were all created in the “image of god,” and therefore, everyone is equal. All humans. But more importantly, over the years I have realized that the festival is part of a social movement. Creating inclusion and equal access for people with disabilities is the new Civil Rights Movement. The Jewish community was so involved with the Civil Rights Movement, because we know what it feels like to not be included.
Jewish camps got their start in order to create a place where Jewish kids can feel included. One of the wonderful qualities of camp is that everyone can find their place in this mini-utopia. There is always the kid who is “different” and does not fit in but in an inclusive environment like camp, being different is acceptable. We are all different and should all be included.
ReelAbilities use great films to foster social change and believe that this will lead to a more inclusive society. We will be including some of our short films (Reel Encounters) in the Foundation for Jewish Camp’s conference. Reel Encounters includes family friendly short films on a diverse selection of disabilities.
ReelAbilities is running in New York from March 6-11 at the JCC in Manhattan and in over 30 locations throughout NY followed by 14 additional cities throughout the year. For more info check out www.NewYork.ReelAbilities.org