2016 ReelAbilities Film Festival

Many thanks to everyone that came out to support the 2016 ReelAbilities Film Festival! We look forward to seeing you again next year with another fantastic lineup of new films chronicling the lives and artistic expressions of individuals living with disabilities.


Becoming Bulletproof

Becoming Bulletproof
Pittsburgh Premiere
Director: Michael Barnett
2014, USA, 82 minutes

Follow a diverse community of artists from Zeno Mountain Farm who come together year after year to make a Hollywood movie, find friendship and grow as actors and individuals, regardless of their ability. This refreshingly genuine and endearing film-within-a-film reveals a dynamic, inclusive world that transcends stigmas and challenges stereotypes, while raising important questions about the lack of artistic opportunities for people with disabilities.

Winner, Audience Choice Award, Best Film – Cleveland International Film Festival

Becoming Bulletproof is as enjoyable as it is inspiring.” – Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter

Followed by a conversation with AJ Murray, an actor living with cerebral palsy, and Will Halby, co-founder and director of Zeno Mountain Farm.

Margarita with a Straw

Margarita with a Straw
Director: Shonali Bose
2014, India, 97 minutes
Hindi and English

An aspiring young writer with cerebral palsy leaves her home in India to attend New York University. After a chance encounter with a fiery female activist, she begins to explore this uncharted world and its liberal sexualities. Based on the true story of a young Punjabi woman, Margarita with a Straw is a unique coming-of-age story about love, identity, and sexuality. (Appropriate for ages 16+)

Winner, Best Asian Film Award (NETPAC) – Toronto International Film Festival

Winner, Special Jury Award for Lead Actress, Kalki Koechlin – National Film Awards, India

Margarita with a Straw is an unexpected delight of charm and substance.” —Dennis Harvey, Variety

“The film Margarita with a Straw is so unexpectedly brilliant, on so many levels, that I was completely mesmerized.” —James Luce, The Huffington Post

Community Partner: ReelQ


Special Preview
Director: Luke Terrell
2016, USA, 70 minutes

A misdiagnosis as a child gave Gabe Weil a new, longer life expectancy and the unexpected gift of time. Empowered to now think about a future that he never thought he would have, Gabe embraces his passions, deepens his friendships, and finds joy in each day as he continues to manage an ongoing disability. This honest and insightful documentary reminds us all to value the time we are given no matter what our challenges.

Followed by a conversation with the film’s director Luke Terrell.

Bottom Dollars

Bottom Dollars
Pittsburgh Premiere
Director: Jordan Melograna
2016, USA, 60 minutes

Since the Fair Labor Standards Act passed in 1938, American workers have been free from labor exploitation, with one exception: people with disabilities. In 2016, nearly 250,000 people with disabilities continue to earn less than the minimum wage. Through personal stories and poignant interviews, this eye-opening documentary exposes this practice while presenting new employment alternatives with competitive wages and community inclusion for workers of all abilities.

Mary Anderson Hartley, Lead Policy & Advocacy Consultant with 21 and Able at United Way of Allegheny County, will introduce the film.

Followed by a panel discussion with local stakeholders moderated by Halle Stockton, Managing Editor, Public Source.

ReelAbilities Shorts Program

Shorts Program
Pittsburgh Premieres

Seven short films totaling 70 minutes highlight diverse themes across the ability spectrum.

Autism in Love (USA, 9 minutes)
A man with autism and his wife discuss their unconditional love.

I Don’t Care (UK, 14 minutes)
A mother-to-be faces the possibility of having a child with Down syndrome.

Macropolis (UK, 7 minutes)
Two toys made at a factory are thrown out and together attempt to be put back on a store shelf.

Midfield (Portugal, 6 minutes)
An ordinary workday in the life of a dock worker — but when Sunday comes, an altogether different man emerges.

Perfect (Canada, 12 minutes)
Julius meets with his psychologist after what he considers to be a disastrous first date.

Strings (Spain, 11 minutes)
Maria’s routine at school is changed by the arrival of a new student who soon becomes her best friend.

Welcome to The Last Bookstore (USA, 11 minutes)
The story of a beloved bookstore owner—a father, husband, and paraplegic.

Followed by a conversation with emerging filmmakers from Pittsburgh’s Joey Travolta Film Camp.

Thank You For Your Service

Thank You for Your Service
Pittsburgh Premiere
Director: Tom Donahue
2015, USA, 88 minutes

The U.S. military faces an unprecedented mental health crisis as veterans returning to civilian life find themselves unequipped to manage the post-traumatic stress and depression that is leading to veteran suicides at an alarming rate. With candid interviews including those from Defense Secretary Robert Gates and General David Petraeus, the film reveals how current policies of the U.S. military are falling short of the critical mental health needs of our veterans.

“Unlike in most docs that fall into unabashed advocacy, Donahue’s footage — wrenching testimonials from soldiers, spouses, and the highest of government and military muckety-mucks — tells gripping stories rather than just serving the argument. The argument, though, is persuasive: It’s deeply immoral to train citizens for war but then not train them again, afterwards, for living.”— Alan Scherstuhl, The Village Voice

Followed by a conversation with the film’s director, Tom Donahue, film subjects Dr. Mark Russell and Phil Straub, and Dr. Rory Cooper, Founding Director of the Human Engineering Research Laboratories, a VA Rehabilitation R&D Center of Excellence.

Sponsored by the Staunton Farm Foundation.