Reeling with Talent

Grab your popcorn and snag a theater seat for the third annual ReelAbilities Film Festival Denver, a diverse montage of short films that artistically convey expressions of people with disabilities. The weekend-long event is comprised of 13 feature films and supplemental programming to celebrate those living with disabilities through the arts. The festival, which is open to everyone—including disability advocates, allies, film buffs, and more—runs November 17-19, 2023, at the JCC Mizel Arts and Culture Center in Denver. 

Among the variety of stories featured include a woman born with one arm entering the modern dating scene, a wheelchair user who carries out master burglaries, and a young comic book artist navigating a cancer prognosis while in a relationship.  

“The ReelAbilities Film Festival is important because it provides the community with a way to support those with disabilities through the arts and film, and it provides an opportunity for people in Denver to enjoy films that may not be shown in mainstream media,” says Ari Shahbazi, Interim Director of the JCC Mizel Arts and Culture Center. 

The films are a collection of people’s personal journeys with disabilities and more generalized concepts designed for entertainment purposes.  

The festival’s opening night on November 17 will feature the Heart and Soul exhibition presented by Access Gallery, a nonprofit organization that allows those with limited or no use of their hands to develop art from start to finish by directing able-bodied partners with real-time verbal cues. Attendees can meander the gallery to locate caricatures of themselves during the evening’s dessert reception. 

On November 18, Reelabilities will play a compilation of several short reels, followed by a discussion in which Phamaly Theater Company’s Artistic Director, Ben Raanan, will host a conversation with models, designers, and other industry creatives who are working towards creating more inclusion in the fashion industry.  

The event’s closing day on November 19 will present a panel of mental health professionals from National Alliance on Mental Illness and WellPower, to lead a conversation about the final film showing, “Any Given Day”, and share what the City of Denver and Colorado State are doing to improve our criminal justice system, available resources for those in a mental health crisis, and community response options. 

The Mizel Culture and Arts Center creates numerous opportunities for event inclusion. All spoken content will be accompanied by ASL interpretation, and many films will include open captions and audio descriptions. While the Elaine Wolf Theatre is wheelchair accessible, attendees will also have the option to view films virtually by tuning in from home. Ticket sales are offered on a tiered sliding scale to create accessible pricing. Click here to purchase tickets.

To enhance your viewing and the discussion sessions, stop by Brewability’s on-site food truck, serving pizza and beer, and staffed by employees living with disabilities.