March 30 - April 1, 2023
North Ave Academic Building [NAAB]
ReelAbilities New Jersey celebrates the lives, stories and artistic abilities of people with all types of disabilities through award-winning short and feature-length films.
The ReelAbilities Film Festival runs from Thursday, March 30, to Saturday, April 1, 2023. Films can either be screened in-person at Kean University or viewed virtually from home.
North Avenue Academic Center [NAAB]
1000 Morris Avenue (at the corner of North Ave.)
Union, NJ 07083
A talkback and Q&A session will follow all screenings.
Screening 1: Thursday, March 30 at 6:00 pm
Screening 2: Friday, March 31 at 6:00 pm
Screening 3: Saturday, April 1 at 11:30 am
Screening 4: Saturday, April 1 at 2:30 pm
Please note: The above times are when the auditorium will open to kick off the day’s program. Film screenings will begin 30 minutes after the doors open, and post-screening talkbacks will be approximately 30 minutes. Please plan your arrival and departure times accordingly.
Join us for I Didn’t See You There, My Disability Roadmap, and Dwarfo-psychosis and stay for a talkback.
When a circus tent goes up outside his Oakland apartment, a disabled filmmaker launches into a meditative journey exploring the history of freakdom, vision and (in)visibility. Shot from the director’s physical perspective — mounted to his wheelchair or handheld — I Didn’t See You There serves as a clear rebuke to the norm of disabled people being seen and not heard.
Winner, 2022 Sundance, U.S. Documentary Director and Grand Jury Prize nominee.
Duration: 1 hr 30 mins
Director: Reid Davenport (NY)
Samuel Habib, 21, wants to date, leave home, go to college. But he drives a 350-pound wheelchair, uses a communication device, and can have a seizure at any moment. Determined to find his path forward, he seeks out guidance from America’s most rebellious disability activists. Will they empower him to launch the bold adult life he craves?
Premiered May 17, 2022, as a New York Times Op-Docs.
Feature-length film coming in 2024!
The entire lead cast on this project – and the majority of the production and outreach crew – are people with disabilities.
Duration: 22 mins
Director: Dan Habib, Samuel Habib
Fraternal twins Peter and Pat celebrate their 40th birthday with a huge reveal.
Duration: 5:25 mins
Director: Maria DiDomenico
Join us for Here.Is.Better. with Beautiful and Borderline Coffee and stay for a talkback
A soldier’s story is always personal. A documentary film with unprecedented access inside trauma therapy sessions delivering hope to veterans battling posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Individuals featured in the film include former presidential hopeful Jason Kander, who shocked many when he left the Kansas City mayoral race in 2018 to seek treatment; a Vietnam War Veteran still haunted by events that occurred over 50 years ago; and the voices of so often overlooked female veterans, all seeking the keys to unlock their places of hurt and pain.
Directed by Emmy®-winning filmmaker Jack Youngelson and produced by Emmy winner Sian Edwards-Beal and David Beal. Score composed by David Baron and Jeremiah Fraites of the GRAMMY-nominated band The Lumineers and original songs by Josin and Kara DioGuardi.
Duration: 1 hr 35 mins
Director: Jack Youngelson
A young woman with crippling anxiety is taken on a journey when she sets out to accomplish what would seem to be a simple task: a cup of coffee.
Duration: 10 mins
Director: Jeff Ayars
A teenage girl undergoes transformative growth as she witnesses her mother’s fight against breast cancer.
Duration: 5:39 mins
Director: Mulan Fu
Join us for ReelLove and ReelPandemic Shorts including Beat Lingo, Aimee Victoria, See Through, Signs and Gestures, Lockdown Tale, The Body is a House of Familiar Rooms, Aggrappati a Me/Hold On to Me
Suffering from mutism has kept this reserved teenager quiet his entire life. After years of homeschooling, he faces his biggest challenge yet – real school. But Marcus holds a special gift that he’s been hiding from the world.
Duration: 16 mins
Director: Jose Navas
A film about two profoundly deaf women of color whose relationship is tested during a period of unprecedented turmoil. Separated on their anniversary, Aimee is shaken out of her self-imposed apathy as she demonstrates her love to Victoria. Conceived and created entirely remotely during the lockdown of 2020 and inspired by true stories of relationships from disabled and LGBTQIA people.
Duration: 10:30 mins
Director: Chrystee Harris
Jessie and Brian, a young Deaf couple, recently discovered they are about to become parents. Their neighborhood coffee shop thrums with everything left unsaid, while they unearth new ways to communicate. Starring 2018 Tony Nominee Lauren Ridloff.
Duration: 8:47 mins
Director: Eyal Resh
Florist Clara relies on smell, touch and sound. She has recently been chatting with Art student Simon through a dating app. They arrange to meet in person. However, during their first date an unexpected situation arises.
Duration: 12 mins
Director: Itandehui Jansen
A documentary showing the behind-the-scenes of ‘Wawel Dragon’, where an animation student named Cameron Carr built a studio in his bedroom when his university closed the studios due to the pandemic.
Duration: 6:07 mins
Director: Cameron Carr, Marie Trudolubova
A magical-realist window into a man’s experience of chronic illness, mixing paintings with live-action documentary footage to explore his inner world and relationship with his partner.
Duration: 10 mins
Director: Eloise Sherrid, Lauryn Welch
The young roman boy Filippo, meets Alice in a tram, a child with down syndrome. She wants to be escorted home but he is late for an important appointment.
Duration: 19:40 mins
Director: Luca Arcidiacono
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Join us for Imperfect with Nick Lightning
A story of artists who live and perform with the uniqueness of disability, and have historically been denied their place in the spotlight. The documentary follows a company of actors with all nature of disabilities – from spinal cord injury to Parkinson’s Disease, cerebral palsy to autism – as they attempt an unprecedented version of Kander, Ebb, and Fosse’s beloved musical Chicago. Capturing the raw, honest stories of the actors inside the production process and outside the theatre in their everyday lives, Imperfect reveals a rare behind-the-scenes look at talented artists who push to succeed as professional performers, no matter the obstacles. Imperfect crushes stale notions of disability and affirms the human condition…in all its many forms.
Duration: 1 hr 18 mins
Director: Brian Malone, Regan Linton
The story of Nick Fergus, aka Nick Lightning, is a heartwarming tale about a Philadelphia man who was born with a disability that doctors could not define until he was diagnosed with Autism at age 44. Music was always front and center to Nick so he decided to become a rock star and created his alter ego as Nick Lightning at age 15. While never possessing true musical talent and unable to learn such, he performs with passion, energy and enthusiasm. Nick’s fun personality and constant expression of gratitude make him one of the most special people you’ll ever meet.
Duration: 26 mins
Director: Pat Taggart
Broadway’s Ali Stroker will perform at Enlow Recital Hall on Saturday, April 1 at 7:30 pm. Ali Stroker won the 2019 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her role as ‘Ado Annie’ in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! She made history as the first actor in a wheelchair to appear on Broadway in Deaf West’s acclaimed 2015 revival of Spring Awakening.
Premiere Stages, the professional theatre company in residence at Kean University, in partnership with Matheny Arts Access, will present Plays by People on Sunday, April 2, at 3:00 pm at the North Avenue Academic Building. The mission of Arts Access is to provide individuals with disabilities the freedom to create in the visual, literary, and performing arts. Plays by People features the work of Matheny Arts Access contributors.