ReelAbilities Pittsburgh film festival returns Sept. 7-11

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RUNNING SEPT. 7-11 at Point Park University’s Pittsburgh Playhouse, 2022 ReelAbilities Pittsburgh, has been presented annually since 2013 by Film Pittsburgh and includes a choice global mix of features and short films that promote awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories and artistic expressions of individuals with disabilities.

The 2022 lineup includes showings of 25 entries from Finland, Australia, Canada, Italy, Ireland, Israel, France, Belgium, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Mongolia, India and the U.S., supplemented by special discussion events with festival directors and producers Kevin Cannon, Steve Dorst, Grace Fisher, Angie Gentile, Daniela Izzie and Isaiah Smith.

While the festival’s annual lineup typically spans a diverse array of topics, this year’s group includes several focusing on creativity — visual art (A Morning with Aroha), music (Amazing Grace, Bow, Silent World, Beat Lingo), dance (We’ll Always Have Dance, Danceable) and theatre (Imperfect).

(l) “Beat Lingo”, (r) “Borderline”

At 7:00 p.m. Sept. 7 before the screening of The Specials (the closing night feature at 2019 Cannes Film Festival), Film Pittsburgh will present the Richard Meritzer Award for outstanding leadership in advancing the letter and spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This year’s recipient is the FISA Foundation of Pittsburgh that champions equity, justice, safety, and inclusion for women, girls and people with disabilities. The Richard Meritzer Award is co-sponsored by ReelAbilities and the City of Pittsburgh-Allegheny County Task Force on Disabilities.

Concurrent with the film festival showings is a pop-up art exhibit on display next to the CMOA Theater with works from Creative Citizen Studios, a Pittsburgh nonprofit aiding artists with intellectual and developmental disabilities to make, exhibit and sell their work.

“When we brought this festival to Pittsburgh ten years ago, we knew it would be special,” said Kathryn Spitz Cohan, Film Pittsburgh’s Executive Director. “But we have been overwhelmed by the impact it’s had. We are so proud to be able to provide a platform for people living with disabilities to see themselves on screen, filmmakers to screen their incredible work and audiences to experience this amazing community.”

Spitz Cohan believes that as disability representation in film becomes more common, it will have a positive effect on promoting general empathy in society overall. “The films we show in ReelAbilities Pittsburgh don’t only speak to disabilities,” she notes. “They show how our world can be made more welcoming and open to everyone.”

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* Full Reel Abilities schedule here … complete ticket info here.

* All films will be presented with open captions or subtitles, audio description and ASL interpretation. Other accommodations are available free of charge by calling Film Pittsburgh at (412) 426-3456.

* Film Pittsburgh’s 2022 schedule continues with its Three Rivers Film Festival (Nov. 10-16) and Pittsburgh Shorts (Nov 17-20).

(l) “Freebird”, (r) “We’ll Always Have Dance”