Mark your calendars! Starting Feb. 12, Houston will host a free citywide film and arts festival that promotes inclusion and showcases the lives of people living with disabilities through film, music, art, and seminars.
The ReelAbilities Film and Arts Festival kicks off on Feb. 12 with ReelArt, an exhibit at the Center for Art and Photography at Celebration Company with visiting artist Brandon Lack, an Austin resident who has Down syndrome.
From the story of a ballerina who relearned how to dance in a wheelchair to the tale of a young Ghanian soccer player who has a leg deformity, the movies showcased at the festival from Feb. 18 to 22 will open your eyes and hearts to what it’s like to live with a disability.
Some highlights include “Swim Team,” the opening film, which tells the story of how the parents of one boy with autism in New Jersey formed a competitive swim team of teens on the autism spectrum. And on Feb. 20, don’t miss the Houston premiere of “Blind Date,” a short documentary about the digital divide that mobile dating apps like Tinder create between sighted and blind people looking for love. All films will be screened at Edwards Greenway Grand Palace Stadium free of charge. Parking is free at the Edwards Greenway theater.
ReelPeople: UP Abilities speaker series will take place Feb. 15 featuring Mandy Harvey, an American singer-songwriter who is deaf and a 2017 finalist on "America's Got Talent." She is a spokesperson for No Barriers USA and Invisible Disabilities Association and travels the country to heighten awareness, break down barriers and challenge stereotypes. UP Abilities will take place at Houston Community College West Loop South Campus and tickets are $18. Registration is required and tickets can be purchased at reelabilitieshouston.org.
There is plenty to do with your kids, too. ReelChildren brings films to the Children’s Museum of Houston throughout the festival with screenings of “Anything You Can Do,” “Macropolis,” “Picked” and “Hear This!” between Feb. 13 and 22 (full schedule here). Kids with autism and sensory processing differences can also enjoy a day at the museum during Sensory Friendly Day on Feb. 19.
To close out the festival, ReelMusic on Feb. 22 will treat audiences to a jazz and blues music jam at White Oak Music Hall where professional musicians invite artists with disabilities to perform.
For more information on all events, visit reelabilitieshouston.org.