Rodef Shalom Congregation
October 20 — November 2
Back with an expanded 12-day format, the ReelAbilities Film Festival will showcase thoughtful cinema that explores the lives, stories and artistic expression of people with different disabilities.
Housed at Rodef Shalom Congregation, the 4th annual festival boasts five feature films, three making their Pittsburgh premiere. The unique festival also includes a 70-minute shorts program with seven Pittsburgh premieres highlighting diverse themes across the ability spectrum.
Augmenting the screenings are complementary programs such as post-show receptions, informative conversations with directors, actors, experts and community leaders, and a nationally touring photography exhibition titled Reinventing the Wheel that documents the experiences of 21 people with spinal cord injuries.
Don’t miss opening night on October 20, featuring the Pittsburgh premiere of Michael Barnett’s “film-within-a-film,” Becoming Bulletproof. The refreshing story follows a diverse community of artists from Vermont’s Zeno Mountain Farm who gather annually to make a Hollywood movie, and along the way end up strengthening friendships and evolving as actors and individuals. Posing important questions about the lack of artistic opportunities for people with disabilities, the award-winning documentary will be followed by a conversation with AJ Murray, an actor living with cerebral palsy, and Will Halby, co-founder and director of Zeno.
Additional feature films include: Jordan Melograna’s Bottom Dollars, Luke Terrell’s Gabe and the Indian film, Margarita with a Straw, by the director, screenwriter and producer Shonali Bose.
ReelAbilities wraps up on November 2 with the Pittsburgh premiere of Tom Donahue’s powerful 2015 film, Thank You For Your Service. Featuring candid interviews with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, General David Petraeus and others, the film examines the unprecedented mental health crisis faced by the U.S. military and how current policies are failing to meet the critical needs of veterans.
A post-show discussion will be led by Donahue, film subjects Dr. Mark Russell and Phil Straub, and Dr. Rory Cooper, director of the University of Pittsburgh’s Human Engineering Research Laboratories.
Co-presented by the FISA Foundation and JFilm: The Pittsburgh Jewish Film Forum, the festival also aims to raise awareness, spark dialogue, change perceptions, and celebrate the vast contributions that people with disabilities make to society.
Looking for more events? Check out our 12 Pittsburgh events not to miss in October, Everything you need to know about Pittsburgh concerts in October and 12 great family adventures in Pittsburgh this October feature stories.