ReelAbilities launched in New York City in 2007, and now Houston is one of 14 cities nationwide that participate in the festivities. The film and arts festival promotes inclusion of disabled people through different arts.
Events include music, theater, a curated art exhibit, and a film festival. The affair runs from Feb. 12 through Feb. 21 at various venues across town.
This past Tuesday night, the Festival presented three speakers at the A.D. Players’ George Theater (5420 Westheimer). Jen Bricker, Erik Weihenmayer and Amanda Boxtel all gave impassioned speeches about living with disabilities that night. Bricker is an accomplished gymnast born without legs; Weihenmayer climbed Mount Everest despite being blind; and Boxtel “bridges human mobility with bionic technology.”
As part of the festival, The Center for Art and Photography at Celebration Center (4131 S. Brasewood Blvd.) will be displaying a gallery exhibit running from Wednesday, Feb. 13 through April 19. The show includes over 20 artists “who live with varying cognitive disabilities.”
On Thursday, Feb. 21, ReelMusic will feature a free show with some of Houston’s leading musicians at White Oak Music Hall (2915 North Main). Ernie Manouse from PBS Channel 8 will emcee the program that will include everything from jazz to rock.
The film festival portion of the festivities unwinds from Sunday though Wednesday, Feb. 17 through Fe. 20 at the Edwards Grand Palace Stadium 24 (3839 Weslayan St.)
Film Festival Portion:
Feb. 17: “Far From the Tree” (7 to 9 pm.) documents relationships between parents and their children.
Feb. 18: “Perfectly Normal For Me” (1 to 2 pm.) follows “kids with physical and developmental disabilities as they attend a dance program.”
Feb. 18: A series of shorts (4 to 5:30 pm.) with subjects ranging from ALS, OCD and misophonia.
Feb 18: “Mind/Game: The Unquiet Journey of Chamique Holdsclaw” (7 to 9 pm.) examines the life the basketball star.
Feb. 19: A series of shorts (4 to 5:30 pm.) with a comic theme including amnesia.
Feb. 19: “By Stanley, For Stanley” (7 pm.), a one-hour documentary from Poland about two people both born without arms.
Feb. 20: “The Rider” (4 to 5:30 pm.) from director Chloé Zhao comes the acclaimed film about a rodeo rider who suffers a career ending injury.
Feb. 20: “Deej” (7 to 9 m.). A moving documentary about DJ Savarese, born autistic and abandoned by his birth parents. His adoptive parents help him transition to higher education.
Perhaps the most notable film is “The Rider,” which is currently nominated for four Independent Film Awards. Zhao used non-professional actors and shot at ranches and rodeos in Nebraska and South Dakota.
“The Rider” has a unique feel enhanced by its authentic locales and performers. The relation between humans and horses also plays a powerful part of the story. Zhao’s impressive direction got her hired on an upcoming Marvel film, “The Eternals.”