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Denver film

This Denver film festival celebrates people with different abilities

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I recently went to a movie with some friends, one of whom was visually impaired. I knew she could obviously listen to the film like the rest of us so I was surprised when she requested we go to the customer service desk to check out headphones which gave supplementary audio descriptions. As I watched the movie while straining to hear her headphones, I realized just how much I take for granted as it described many of the silent moments and nuances that could be missed by just listening to a film.

And it made me realize I have a lot to learn about being differently-abeled. 

That’s why I think it’s pretty darn awesome the JCC Mizel Arts and Culture Center is hosting the second annual Colorado-based ReelAbilities Film Festival Denver in-person in Denver and Boulder from August 24-28 and virtually from August 24-31. The festival promotes awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories, and artistic expressions of people with disabilities. The festival includes nine films showing in-person and 13 films that can be accessed virtually along with supplemental programming and Q&As. 

ReelAbilities Film Festival Denver begins on Wednesday, August 24 at 6 p.m. with a free opening night reception and community resource fair at the JCC Mizel Arts and Culture Center preceding the opening night film, ‘The Specials.’ The community resource fair will allow attendees to engage with festival partners and sponsors to learn more about the organizations.

“ReelAbilities encourages building relationships with individuals and organizations within the disability community and provides a platform to increase awareness of the programs and services that they provide,” said Jenna Gragg, festival coordinator at the JCC Mizel Arts and Culture Center. “In addition to the films, we are excited to feature artwork by Uzi Buzgalo, a deaf, Israeli artist, thanks to a partnership with Access Gallery. The art will be on display throughout the festival in the JCC Mizel Reception Room.”

Films will be shown in Denver, Boulder and virtually. 

Phamaly Theatre Company’s film ‘Imperfect,’ featuring local Denver talent, will run on the closing night of the festival in Denver on Saturday, August 27 at 7 p.m. After the film, there will be a panel discussion with the Phamaly Theatre Company’s actors and production crew.

The JCC Mizel Arts and Culture Center has worked to make ReelAbilities Film Festival Denver accessible to all implementing:

  • Open captions: English-language subtitles that depict narration, dialogue, and any sound cues are built into all film files.
  • Audio description: Narration describing visual elements for the blind and visually impaired is available for all in-person screenings and is built into select virtual films as separate catalog listings.
  • ASL interpretation will be provided for all in-person spoken content, with auto-captioning available for live-streamed content.
  • Tickets are available on a sliding scale payment model so patrons can pay $5, $10 or $15 per film screening to allow participation of all interested community members at a ticket price that is accessible to them. 
  • The theatre is wheelchair accessible. Patrons who need wheelchair access seating can purchase tickets online, over the phone, or in-person at our box office.
  • Hybrid festival: This festival will be offered both in-person and virtually for home access at any time of day. Please note that while we strive to make all films accessible virtually, certain limitations prohibit a fully hybrid festival.

The JCC Mizel Arts and Culture Center is located in the south facing lot of the Staenberg-Loup Jewish Community Center (JCC Denver) at 350 S. Dahlia Street in Denver. For more information about the festival and to purchase tickets, visit jccdenver.org/reelabilities.

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