Elizabeth Heller
Marketing and Communications Manager
The Boston Jewish Film Festival, Inc.
1001 Watertown Street
West Newton, MA 02465
Telephone: 617-244-9899 x210
Fax: 617-244-9894
eheller@bjff.org

 

 

Third ReelAbilities: Boston Disabilities Film Fest enjoys attendance jump

            NEWTON, MA. – Feb. 25, 2014 – The third annual ReelAbilities Boston Disabilities Film Festival set a record for total attendance, smashing last year’s mark by 11 percent.

            ReelAbilities: Boston, presented by The Boston Jewish Film Festival from Jan. 30-Feb. 6 (extended to Feb. 12 due to snow), enjoyed an increase in attendance to just over 950 people. A record number of 17 films were screened at seven venues in the Greater Boston area and Springfield.

            This marked the third straight year ReelAbilities: Boston set an attendance record. Venue attendance records were set at screenings in Springfield and at Cardinal Cushing Centers in Hanover and in Springfield. The Festival utilized several new venues, including the Emerson College Bill Bordy Theater, the Springfield JCC and the Cambridge Public Library.

            “Our goal for the third annual ReelAbilities: Boston Disabilities Film Festival was to select quality films and engaging speakers that would challenge stereotypes, expand understanding and entertain a broad audience,” says Festival Director Ellie Pierce.

            “From our opening night with ‘Wretches & Jabberers,’ when film subjects Larry Bissonnette and Tracy Thresher communicated with the audience via text-to-speech to our closing night of short films when actor Bobby Bird charmed the crowd, guest speakers were critical to the success of the 2014 ReelAbilities: Boston Disabilities Film Festival. People with disabilities were not merely the subjects of the films, but at the center of the conversations.”

            Boston Jewish Film Festival Executive Director Jaymie Saks says, “Of course, we are thrilled by the increase every year in attendance. We’re even more excited to see a wide variety of people joining us those with disabilities, those who work in the disabilities community and those who just want to watch great films!

            This year’s Festival included films about autism (Wretches & Jabberers, Son of the Stars), cerebral palsy (Wampler’s Ascent), blindness (Imagine), ALS (Getting Up) and Down syndrome (Anita). Films came from around the world with feature and documentary films, including two nights of short films.

            The Festival presented a complete experience, pairing film screenings with special events, including a climbing demonstration, a Museum of Fine Arts tour for people with visual impairment and a variety of insightful panel discussions.

            Following Wampler’s Ascent, a film about a man with cerebral palsy who climbs El Capitan at Yosemite, Cardinal Cushing Centers students enjoyed learning about and participating in adaptive climbing.

            The MFA hosted the Feeling for Form Tour of the museum after screening Imagine, a feature film about a charismatic blind teacher.

            The Boston premiere of the bonus short The Perfect Buddy had a lively Q&A with director Michael Parks Randa and actor Bobby Bird, who has Down syndrome.

            Pierce is already looking ahead to next year’s Festival. “We’re excited to build upon the success of our partnerships and events and look forward to expanding these offerings in 2015,” she says.

            Festival sponsors were the Ruderman Family Foundation, the J.E. & Z.B. Butler Foundation, Nancy Lurie Marks Foundation, Cambridge Trust Co., CBIZ Tofias, the Massachusetts Cultural Council and Combined Jewish Philanthropies.

            For more information, visit http://boston.reelabilities.org.