Much of the discussion surrounding Hollywood’s efforts to be more inclusive and more accurately represent the people that make up the industry has rightfully centered around women and people of color, but the actors, writers and filmmakers who make up the entertainment industry’s large contingent of differently-abled members are making sure their voices are heard and their work is seen on the big screen as well.
The second annual ReelAbilities Film Festival kicks off on Friday and runs through Sunday at the Universal Cinema AMC at CityWalk Hollywood and showcases features, shorts and panel discussion all featuring actors, writers, directors and others in the film industry with disabilities. The festival kicks off on Friday evening with a special screening of this year’s critically-acclaimed film “The Peanut Butter Falcon,” starring Zack Gottsagen as a young man with down syndrome who escapes his residential home to follow his dream of attending a professional wrestling school. There’s also a screening of the once-banned 1932 cult classic “Freaks” from director Todd Browning, restored to its original 1:33 aspect ratio. The festival was founded in New York ten years ago and has since expanded to cities around the U.S.
Today on AirTalk, Larry Mantle talks with the festival’s co-director Michael Dougherty as well as actor R.J. Mitte, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at age 3, about the mission behind the festival, the films they’ll be showcasing this year, and hear their take on how the entertainment industry is including differently-abled actors and filmmakers in its move to be more inclusive and more accurate in representation.
ReelAbilites Film Festival: Los Angeles 2019 will take place October 25-27 at the AMC Universal CityWalk. For tickets, and to see the festival schedule, click here.
Michael Dougherty, co-director of the ReelAbilities Film Festival: Los Angeles 2019