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Thursday, February 13, 2020

ReelAbilities Film Festival promotes awareness of people with different abilities

A scene from "Cheers of JOY."
The ReelAbilities Film Festival, Feb. 20-March 1, offers films that promote awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories, and artistic expressions of people with different abilities.

The films – a mix of dramas, documentaries, and shorts – are screened at various venues throughout the region, including the Pozez Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia, the festival’s host.


“ReelAbilities opens one’s mind and heart and highlights the human experience, says Sara Berry, the JCC’s arts and ideas director. “There’s something for everybody.”

The screenings are free, except for the opening and closing events, which are $8. Advance registrations are strongly encouraged, as many of the venues have limited seating.

The opening film, “Cheers of JOY” – Feb. 20, 7:30 p.m., at the JCC – tells the compelling story of Team JOY, the Special Olympics cheerleading team from Montgomery County, Md., and the young women’s search for inclusion, dignity, and respect as they progress to the World Games. A reception follows the screening.

Mind/Game: The Unquiet Journey of Chamique Holdsclaw,” Feb. 23, 1 p.m., at the JCC, presents the story of a WNBA star, her hidden struggle with mental illness, and her second career as a mental health advocate.

Deaf Jam,” at the The Reach at the Kennedy Center, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m., is about a deaf Israeli poet living in New York who joins a Palestinian slam poet on a collaborative performance.

The closing night event, “Reel Creativity,” March 1, 7 p.m., at the JCC, features three short films:
  • “Ian, a Moving Story,” is an animated film from Argentina about a boy having trouble making friends because he uses a wheelchair. 
  • “Shake With Me” tells the story of Debra Magid, an artist living with Parkinson’s Disease.
  • “Living Art” is about Mara Clawson, an artist with familial dysautonomia, whose art became her means of communication and livelihood. Clawson’s paintings are on display at the JCC’s art gallery. After the screening, there will be avreception and Q&A discussion with Clawson director David Rochkind. 
ReelAbilities includes eight other events. The full schedule is online.

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