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Monday, March 25, 2019

ReelAbilities Film Festival Announces Special Guests & Events




Also Reveals Rachel Handler and Crystal Arnette as Winners of the “What's My ReelAbility?” Film Competition, with their film “Authentically Me”

In Partnership with the Mayor’s Office for Media and Entertainment And the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities

New York, NY (March 25, 2019) – The 11th  Annual ReelAbilities Film Festival: New York of the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan is proud to take the audience beyond its outstanding selection of films with an array of special events and speakers that enhance the weeklong festival. Highlights will include a disability comedy night at Gotham Comedy Club, led by “Seinfeld” actor Danny Woodburn and many esteemed comedians, and a fashion and design event at Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum.

The festival will also feature industry-related panels such as Writing Disability with Nancy Silberkleit, CEO of Archie Comics, Alexandra Cassel, a writer for the children’s television program “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” and award-winning director Jason DaSilva. Additionally, the festival will open its doors for free daytime screenings for schools and educators. All schools are welcome to take advantage of this special initiative; contact for more details. To learn more about screenings and special events or to purchase tickets, visit or call 646.505.5708 or TTY 877.505.6708.

Other standout events include the annual Friday night Shabbat dinner, where ReelAbilities will spotlight activism and honor Lawrence Carter-Long, a founding visionary of the festival and curator/co-host of “The Projected Image: A History of Disability on Film” on Turner Classic Movies, and quality conversations with an incredible slate of filmmakers, experts, actors, and other talent, including Chris Cooper (actor “Intelligent Lives”), Dr. Harold Kaplowitz, The Child Mind Institute, and Kevin Hines (subject and writer, “Suicide: The Ripple Effect”). A full list of speakers and special guests can be found at

ReelAbilities, in partnership with the Mayor's Office for Media and Entertainment and the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities, is pleased to announce  “Authentically Me” by Rachel Handler and Crystal Arnette as the winner of the “What’s Your ReelAbility?” 27-second film competition for films relating to life with disabilities. Handler, an actress and an amputee, shares the authentic parts of her life that make her who she is. The film will screen on Taxi TV and at the festival throughout the week as part of the prize.

“We are thrilled to partner with the ReelAbilities New York Film Festival and the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities on ‘What’s Your ReelAbility?’” said Anne del Castillo, acting commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. “This festival offers the most diverse showcase of films made for, by, and about people with disabilities, and our office is committed to increasing diversity and inclusion in the media and entertainment industry.”

“Every one of our films is captioned and audio described, and all of our conversations are made accessible,” said Isaac Zablocki, director and co-founder of ReelAbilities. “We are setting a new standard of inclusion for people of all abilities and challenge other festivals to do the same.”



Lights! Camera! Access! 2.0 is proud to collaborate with ReelAbilities to present résumé review, speed interviews, workshops, flash mentoring, and networking designed for aspiring filmmakers and media professionals with disabilities. LCA2.0 addresses underrepresentation of disabilities in media to increase employment, improve authentic disability-inclusive diversity portrayals, and expand accessible media.

Wednesday, April 3, 12:30 p.m. | Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan


Join us for the second annual ReelAbilities Comedy Night where comedians with disabilities share stories and inspiring experiences at the Gotham Comedy Club. Hosted by the one and only Danny Woodburn, and featuring Pamela Schuller, Tyler Fischer, Nic Novicki, Donnie Sengstack, Nina G, Ryan Haddad, and others to be announced.

Wednesday, April 3, 8 p.m. | Gotham Comedy Club


Honoring Lawrence Carter-Long

ReelAbilities celebrates advocacy and honors those individuals who lead the way toward greater inclusion and accessibility. Join us for a lively Shabbat dinner and a screening of several short films relating to activism as we honor the inspiring work of one of our founding collaborators, Lawrence Carter-Long.

Friday, April 5, 6:30 p.m. | Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan. Advance registration required.


Bring the whole family to the JCC for hands-on exploration and activities inspired by the festival during its famous R&R Shabbat event. Programs will include Heidi Latsky Dance—On Display, NYC Kids Project Puppet Show, Action Play theater, panel discussions, partner activities and tables, and much more. A full schedule of events will be available online at

Saturday, April 6, 2-6 p.m. | Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan


The visions presented in media help shape our society. From Archie Comics to children’s TV shows, we are witnessing exciting new examples of inclusion in media. Join us for a panel and presentations of creators furthering diversity in multiple forms of media.

In Partnership with WGA-East 

Saturday, April 6, 3 p.m. | Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan


Brand ambassadors, designers, and industry pioneers will gather in conversation to explore the development of fashion for people with disabilities, representation, and the business case for engaging with inclusive design. The panel will also discuss the shift in focus from function to self-expression.

Saturday, April 6, 5 p.m. | Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum


TV and web series have opened up new platforms for accessible presentations of people with disabilities. Enjoy a screening featuring groundbreaking shows, including “On the Spectrum” and “Hot Flash,” which spotlight people with disabilities, followed by a discussion involving the filmmakers and industry experts.

In partnership with SAG-AFTRA.

Sunday, April 7, 2:30 p.m. | Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan


Featuring five young adult artists who have Familial Dysautonomia (including Mara Clawson, subject of the film “Living Art”).

Sunday, April 7, 4-7 p.m. | Allouche Gallery

A complete list of special events, program updates, additional information, and ticketing details are available online at or by calling 646.505.5708 or TTY 877.505.6708.

Ticket Information

Ticketing policies and prices vary by location. To purchase tickets or register by phone, please contact the appropriate screening venue directly. The Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan offers group rates and discounted multi-ticket packs. Tickets can be purchased online at

About ReelAbilities

Presented by the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan, the 11th Annual ReelAbilities Film Festival: New York is dedicated to promoting awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories, and artistic expressions of people with different abilities. The festival presents award-winning films in various locations throughout the NY metropolitan area. Discussions and other engaging programs bring the community together to explore, discuss, and celebrate the diversity of our shared human experience. Learn more at

About the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan

Together with its community, the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan creates opportunities for people to connect, grow, and learn within an ever-changing Jewish landscape.
Located on 76th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, the JCC is a vibrant non-profit community center on the Upper West Side. The cornerstone of progressive programming in Manhattan, the JCC serves over 55,000 people annually through 1,200 programs each season that educate, inspire, and transform participants' minds, bodies, and spirits. Since its inception, the JCC has been committed to serving the community by offering programs, classes, and events that reach beyond neighborhood boundaries, reaching people at all stages of their lives. Learn more at


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