Sunday, March 27, 2022

ReelAbilities Film Festival / April 7-13, 2022

 The Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan’s (MMJCCM) ReelAbilities Film Festival: New York announces the full lineup of films and select special events for its 14th annual festival, which returns as a hybrid event in person and virtual from April 7th through April 13th. Tickets are now available and can be purchased at  

The festival’s Opening Night selection will be Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano’s acclaimed film THE SPECIALS, starring Vincent Cassel, Reda Kateb, Helene Vincent, and Brian Mialoundama. It will screen April 7th, at 7 pm at the IAC Screening Room, co-presented by Vimeo and followed by a Q&A with special guests from the film. 

The Closing Night film will be the New York premiere of Brian Malone and Regan Linton’s documentary IMPERFECT, which follows an award-winning theater group consisting of actors who live and perform with the uniqueness of disability as they set out to claim their place in the spotlight with a production of the beloved musical Chicago. Following these actors’ lives inside and outside the theater, curtains are drawn open to overlooked talent and the power of the human condition in its many forms. It will screen on April 13th at 7 pm at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan. 



Lynn Montgomery

United States | 55 min | Documentary

Talented young musician Gracie Smith, proficient in three instruments, was on her way to the world famous Berklee College of Music. On her 17th birthday, she developed Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM), a rare polio-like disease. Determined to persevere, Gracie set out to find new ways to create art, driven by her philosophy: "My only limitation will be my imagination." Featuring Justin Hurwitz, Academy Award–winning composer of La La Land.

Disabilities Represented: Acute Flaccid Myelitis/Quadriplegia, Guillain-Barre syndrome/Paraplegia



Dir. Margaret Byrne

United States | 93 min | Documentary

Filmmaker Margaret Byrne documents the lives of three defendants with mental illness going through a specialized probation program designed to focus on mental health. Byrne’s own mental health condition becomes tied in to the larger picture of family relationships, struggles, and triumphs.

Disabilities Represented: Mental illness



Dir. Jack Youngelson

United States | 95 min | Documentary

In this personal documentary, the intimate lives of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are shared inside hopeful therapy sessions. From men to women, from the Vietnam War to the present day, stories are unlocked that dispel myths about PTSD and place focus on veterans’ journeys to a place of healing. Featuring former presidential hopeful Jason Kander.

Disabilities represented: PTSD



Dir.  Brian Malone, Regan Linton

United States | 78 min | Documentary

An award-winning theater group consisting of actors who live and perform with the uniqueness of disability sets out to claim their place in the spotlight with a production of the beloved musical Chicago. Following these actors’ lives inside and outside the theater, curtains are drawn open to overlooked talent and the power of the human condition in its many forms.

Disabilities represented: Paralysis, Cerebral Palsy, Blindness, Autism, Multiple Sclerosis, Polio



Dir. Jim Bernfield

United States | 72 min | Documentary

When faced with growing symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, two professional actors set forth to put on an off-Broadway production of Samuel Beckett’s Endgame, a play Beckett wrote as a metaphor for living with a disease. Through the artistic process, these actors find humor in struggle and power in the soul.

Disabilities represented: Parkinson’s disease




Dir. Kelsey Peterson, Daniel Klein

United States | 81 min | Documentary

At age 27, dancer Kelsey Peterson dove into Lake Superior and emerged paralyzed. Now, she faces the opportunity to dance again, as she works to redefine who she is and rediscover hope in the body and spirit.

Disabilities represented: Spinal cord injury/disorder



Dir. Marc Schiller

UK | 90 min | Documentary

Marc Schiller, a communications expert with a long career promoting street art, music, and film, suffers a stroke that leaves him with aphasia and some cognitive deficits. With the help of family, Marc chronicles his career in the NYC art scene, his path toward recovery, and the love that surrounds him.

Disabilities represented: Stroke victim



Dir. Matsui Itaru

Japan | 54 min | Documentary

Synopsis:  In search of a place between two disparate worlds, three teenage Children of Deaf Adults (CODAs), come of age in the vibrant, loud Deaf community. Grappling with issues of prejudice, leading double lives, and familial bonds, this documentary asks what it means to exist between different cultures and how you can define your sense of identity.

Disabilities represented: Children of Deaf Adults



Dir. Linda Niccol

New Zealand | 98 min | Narrative

Poppy, a young woman with Down syndrome, is set on becoming a motor mechanic. Unfortunately, her overly protective brother keeps jamming the wheel of that ambition. When an opportunity arises for Poppy, she sets out to prove her independence and achieve her dream.

Disabilities represented: Down syndrome



SXSW 2022

Dir. Teemu Nikki

Finland | 81 min | Narrative

Jaako, a blind wheelchair user with multiple sclerosis, forges an active long-distance relationship with Sirpa over the phone, without ever meeting in person. When Sirpa reveals shocking news, Jaako decides to undergo a real-life odyssey to meet her. Jaako travels through five different locations, encountering strangers both helpful and harmful, on his way to the one he loves.

Disabilities represented: Multiple sclerosis, Blindness




Dir. Rodrigo Pla, Laura Santullo

Mexico | 111 min | Narrative

Elena is a single mother attempting to manage her son Tom’s behavioral issues. When Tom is diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), Elena becomes aware of the possible side effects of his medication. With Social Services threatening to remove him from her custody, Elena fights for the well-being of the only person she has. 

Disabilities represented: ADHD



Dir. Olivier Nakache, Éric Toledano

France, Belgium | 114 min | Narrative

Close friends Bruno and Malik have combined their nonprofits to train youth in underprivileged areas to be caregivers for autistic children and teens. However, the program lacks official certification and is under the watchful eye of the General Inspectorate of Social Affairs. Despite this looming threat and internal conflicts, the power of unity, compassion, and acceptance within the program prove exceptional.

Disabilities represented: Autism




Dir. Michael Joseph McDonald

United States | 29 min | Documentary

Synopsis: Three Georgians with cerebral palsy fight to live life on their own terms. But as their families bond, state policy tries to tear them apart.

Disability represented: Cerebral palsy



Dir. Grace Fisher

United States | 8 min | Animation

A caterpillar who can’t become a butterfly discovers he can still add color to the world in his own special way. Featuring music and artwork by Amazing Grace star Grace Fisher, with critters created by children with disabilities in Santa Barbara.

Disability represented: Down syndrome, Autism



Dir. Nicholas Riini

New Zealand | 11 min | Narrative

Aroha, an imaginative young girl with Down syndrome, sets out to share her creativity with her neighbors.

Type of disability: Down syndrome



Dir. Luca Arcidiacono

Italy | 20 min | Narrative

Filippo did not expect to have to spend the day with Alice, a charming young girl with Down syndrome he meets on a train. On their journey, an unexpected bond forms between the two.

Disability represented: Down syndrome



Dir. Chrystee Pharris

United States | 11 min

On the day of their anniversary, a couple separated by lockdown finds their relationship tested. A story about the power of love in the toughest of times.

Disability represented: Deafness



Dir. Jose Navas

United States | 16 min | Narrative

Marcus, a reserved teenager with mutism, attends public school for the first time in his life. Pushing through trials and prejudices of the past and present, Marcus uncovers a special gift he’s been hiding from the world.

Disability represented: Mutism



Dir. Mulan Fu

United States | 6 min | Animation

A teenage girl undergoes transformative growth as she witnesses her mother's fight against breast cancer.

Disability represented: Breast cancer



Dir. Jeff Ayars

United States | 10 min | Short

A young woman overtaken by anxiety battles through her inner thoughts when she sets out to accomplish what would seem to be a simple task: buying a cup of coffee.

Disability represented: Borderline personality disorder



Dir. Adam Douglas Deyoe

United States | 9 min | Animation

Davey, a cheerful and loving man with Down syndrome, finds his future thrown into uncertainty when his eldery mother passes away.

Disability represented: Down syndrome



Dir. Timon Birkhofer

United States | 5 min | Documentary

Five unique individuals take us on a journey where their achievements shine beyond preconceived ideas of what is possible.

Disabilities represented: Five different physical disabilities



Dir. Maria DiDomenico

United States | 5 min | Narrative Short

As fraternal twins Peter and Pat celebrate their 40th birthday, a huge twist is revealed.

Disability represented: Dwarfism



Dir. Michael Joseph McDonald, Joe Bluhm

Canada | 5 min | Animation

A boy with Down syndrome learns to navigate the world with a loving mother, an absent father, a classroom bully, and a lifelong crush.

Disability represented: Down syndrome



Dir. Lily Drummond

United States | 28 min | Narrative short

A viral online photographer wants to remain anonymous in order to hide parts of their identity. When a fan from the other side of the world makes a connection, they learn to accept themselves by sharing the universal language of art.

Disability represented: Deafness



Dir. Théo Jamin, Kayu Leung, Marion Philippe, Jean-Géraud Blanc

France | 5 min | Animation

Louis, an 8-year-old autistic boy, introduces himself at his new school in this imaginative tale about difference and acceptance.

Disability represented: Autism



Dir. Cameron Carr, Marie Trudolubova

United Kingdom | 6 min | Animation

A behind-the-scenes documentary on the making of Wawel Dragon. When the pandemic forces his university’s studios to shut down, animation student Cameron Carr sets to work creating his very own studio in his bedroom.

Disability represented: Autism



Dir. Antoine Chapon

United States | 19 min | Documentary

Taking the technology used for Virtual Reality military simulation, a veteran transforms the originally violent landscape into a space of nature and healing.

Disability represented: PTSD



Dir. Pat Taggart

United States | 27 min | Documentary

At a young age, Nick Fergus found joy in creating rock star alter ego “Nick Lightning.” Now diagnosed in a world of rising Autism awareness, Nick Lightning challenges ideas of what it means to live a happy, fulfilling life.

Disability represented: Autism, ADHD



Dir. Steven Fraser

United Kingdom | 10 min | Animation, Documentary

Unraveling sketchbooks, photographs, and diaries with unique animation, Prosopagnosia explores what it means to live with face blindness and Autism, and investigates concepts of intimacy, communication, and memory.

Disability represented: Face blindness, Autism



Dir. Eyal Resh

United States | 9 min | Narrative Short

Tensions rise between a young deaf couple discovering they are about to become parents. Featuring 2018 Tony nominee and Eternals star Lauren Ridloff.

Disability represented: Deafness



Dir. Itandehui Jansen

United Kingdom | 12 min | Narrative Short

Clara, a blind florist, has been chatting with Simon through a dating app. They arrange to meet in person. However, during their first date, an unexpected misunderstanding arises.

Disability represented: Blindness, hearing impairment



Dir. Charlie Dennis

United Kingdom | 10 min | Narrative Short

When threatened by a deadly gas, humanity is forced to live underground. While everyone else adjusts to their new way of life, deaf rapper Signkid struggles with loss and isolation in an increasingly inaccessible world.

Disability represented: Deafness



Dir. Eloise Sherrid, Lauryn Welch

United States | 10 min | Animation, Documentary

A magical-realist exploration of the life of a man with chronic illness through footage and paintings.  

Disability represented: Ehlers-Danlos syndrome



Dir. Storm Smith, Natasha Ofili

United States | 18 min | Narrative Short

An isolated deaf woman fights to maintain control when past demons threaten to destroy the world of order she has built.

Disability represented: Deafness



Dir. Juan Manuel Montilla "Langui"

Spain | 15 min | Narrative Short

Every day, Santiago walks with his son Diego to and from school. But today is different. Diego is no longer a boy, walking is difficult for Santiago, and father and son will need to have a truthful discussion that both hurts and heals.

Disability represented: Physical disability



Dir. Cameron Carr

United Kingdom | 6 min | Animation

An animated retelling of the classic Polish folktale by Cameron Carr (Strange), Wawel Dragon features a dragon, knights, and the unexpected heroism of a simple shoemaker.

Disability represented: Autism



Dir. Smari Gunn

Iceland | 6 min | Narrative Short

When a homeowner and master burglar become aware they are in separate parts of the house, a frantic game of cat-and-mouse ensues.

Disability represented: Muscular Dystrophy/Wheelchair user



About ReelAbilities Film Festival: New York

ReelAbilities Film Festival is the largest film festival in the world dedicated to promoting awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories, and artistic expressions of people with disabilities. Founded in New York in 2007 by the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan, the festival presents award-winning films by and about people with disabilities in multiple locations throughout the city. Post-screening discussions and other engaging programs bring communities together to explore, discuss, embrace, and celebrate the diversity of our shared human experience.


The New York festival is the launching pad for an international program and its selections run satellite ReelAbilities festivals in over 20 cities worldwide. Learn more at

ReelAbilities encourages inclusive language that acknowledges people's personal preferences.

We support:

- Person-first language (a person with a disability, not a disabled person).

- Asking people for their preferences and if they require assistance.

- Creating an inclusive environment welcoming to people with and without disabilities.



ReelAbilities strives for inclusion of all people. All films are screened with open captions and all venues are wheelchair accessible. ASL interpretation, CART, Audio Description, and information in Braille are available upon advance request. Individuals needing accommodations to participate should contact the screening venue directly at least two weeks in advance of the event. 


About the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan

Together with its community, the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan creates opportunities for people to connect, grow, and learn within an ever-changing Jewish landscape. Located on 76th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, the JCC is a vibrant non-profit community center on the Upper West Side. It also presents a robust slate of virtual programming, serving an even wider community. The JCC serves over 55,000 people annually through 1,200 programs each season that educate, inspire, and transform participants' minds, bodies, and spirits. Throughout COVID-19, the JCC has pivoted to meet the community online, exceeding 102,000 registrations to over 3,000 virtual classes and programs in the earliest part of the pandemic. Since its inception, the JCC has been committed to serving the community by offering programs, classes, and events that extend beyond neighborhood boundaries, reaching people at all stages of their lives. Learn more at

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