The 10th annual ReelAbilities Film Festival: New York has set its lineup, including an opening-night award presentation to Oscar winner Marlee Matlin.
The fest, designed to promote inclusion and authentic portrayals in cinema of people with disabilities, will open March 8 with the previously announced 2017 Tribeca Film Festival award-winner Keep the Change and will close with the New York premiere of Matan Yair’s Scaffolding, which won best Israeli feature and best actor at the 2017 Jerusalem Film Festival.
Other highlights of this year’s lineup include Mad to Be Normal, starring Elisabeth Moss, David Tennant, Gabriel Byrne and Michael Gambon, as well as documentaries about an aspiring rock guitarist with cerebral palsy and WNBA star Chamique Holdsclaw, who struggled with mental illness. The event will also screen the Oscar-nominated documentary short Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405.
“ReelAbilities is New York’s largest celebration of the disability community,” said festival director and co-founder Isaac Zablocki. “Making this our most inclusive event to date allows the entire community to celebrate the 10th anniversary of this impactful festival together. We present great films that absolutely anyone can enjoy and be further impacted by the conversations.”
During the fest’s opening-night ceremony, Matlin will be honored by the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, receiving a spotlight award for her contributions to New York’s creative community and for serving as an inspiration and role model to artists with different abilities.
“Marlee Matlin is not only a decorated television, Broadway and film actress — she’s a fierce advocate for artists,” said Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment commissioner Julie Menin. “Marlee has used her celebrity to advocate for others in her community and continues to give back, paving the way for differently abled actors and actresses of the next generation. She is an example of how diversity can truly make us stronger, and I can think of no better place to present her with this award than the landmark 10th annual ReelAbilities festival, a vital venue to experience films by and about people with all kinds of abilities.”
The ReelAbilities flagship New York festival is set to run through March 14 at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan and more than 30 other venues in New York City as well as on Long Island and in Westchester and Rockland Counties, making it the most geographically accessible fest in the country. For the first time, the event will offer audio description for all of its feature films.