By Merle Exit
The Central Queens Y in Forest Hills announced the presentation of “ReelAbilities Film Festival,” an international array of films.
In its 10th Year, the festival will run from March 8 to March 14 in Queens at the Y, Museum of Moving Image and York College. Founded by Marlene Meyerson of JCC Manhattan, each venue give viewers the opportunity to view two days worth of award-winning films.
The motion pictures put people with disabilities in the spotlight. The films scheduled at the Y for March 11 and 12 will each be followed by a discussion with speakers including filmmakers, teachers, personnel from the film and social workers.
Peggy Kurtz, from the Y’s Hevisi Library, said they choose the films for their own screenings.
“We have a large and diverse film selection committee that selects films according to their relevance for our audience and the quality of the films,” she said. “Our committee includes special needs teachers and people who have had experience [with] some of the issues explored in the films. Year after year, I hear from the committee that being part of this festival is tremendously rewarding for them and has raised their awareness.”
Here are some of the films that you can check out during the festival:
From Director Catherine Tambini, the movie tells the story of a unique after-school program in Queens known as Dancing Dreams.
“The kids, who have a variety of developmental and physical challenges come from at least two different schools,” Kurtz said. “They are paired with teenage volunteers to create an inclusive environment.”
“UNSTUCK: A Movie About Kids”
The 23-minute documentary from director Kelly J. Anderson centers on children with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, observed through the children’s eyes.
A series of outstanding short films is headlined by the Oscar-nominated “Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405” — which revolves around a woman who battles depression and anxiety while creating artwork depicting her journey through the years of treatment — as well as “Mr. Connolly Has ALS,” the story of a beloved high school teacher who continues to lead his classes while battling the disease.
“The Barber of Augusta,” directed by Michele Hozer, is the final film scheduled.
Winner of the Best Israeli Feature and Best Actor awards at the 2017 Jerusalem Film Festival, this 93-minute narrative directed by Matan Yair focuses on a 17-year old who has trouble learning and an inability to focus, as well as the teacher who lures his focus to the world of literature.
All films are open to the general public for free, but a voluntary donation is requested. The Y is located at 67-09 108th St. Tickets and more information are available online at www.cqy.org/reel or by calling 718-268-5011 (ext. 151).
MOMI will also be hosting viewings on Saturday and Sunday. Two of the films will be shown at both the Y and MOMI, but some of the features are exclusive to the Astoria venue.
The animated film focuses on a classroom child with dyslexia and having understanding teachers willing to make a difference.
“Keep the Change”
The features is about an upper-class young man who wants to hide his autism. He is forced to attend a support group, where he falls in love with a young sheltered woman who disputes his identity of being “normal.”
“Out of My Head”
Susanna Styron directed the movie, which is about her own daughter who suffers from migraines, an often debilitating neurological disease. The film is meant to show the difference between migraines and what people think of as simply bad headaches.