Blog Post

An Intern’s Viewpoint: ReelAbilities Film Festival Columbus Kick-Off

A group of people sit in a dark room in blue chairs. They are watching a movie, looking at a screen in front of them.

Post by OSU Writing Intern, Lauren Mox

I had the cool opportunity to attend the ReelAbilities Film Festival Columbus presented by Art Possible Ohio in partnership with Columbus State Community College Library. 

ReelAbilities Film Festival Columbus is a first of its kind film festival that promotes awareness and appreciation of lives, stories and artistic expressions of people with different abilities, all through the easily accessible art form of film. The festival, founded in 2007, presents award winning films by and about people with disabilities in different hosting locations. Discussions and engaging programs are used after the films to to encourage exploration, discussion and celebration of the diversity of shared human experience. 

The festival included three short films for children and one feature film for people 18+. The audience was peppered with college students, adults, professors and even artists from the Accessible Expressions Ohio exhibit on display at the Columbus State Library. 

The first short film, “Charlie and the Hunt,” was directed by Jenny Shaw. The short film focuses on a young girl, Charlie, who loves treasure hunts and is a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults). Charlie uses ASL to communicate with her mother throughout the film as she bravely tries to find a sentimental family bracelet that went missing. 

The second short film, “Andy & Kaliope,” was directed by Crystal Arnette. The story follows Andy, a young child with cerebral palsy, who moves throughout foster homes. Andy’s mother left him a superhero figure named Kaliope. Andy’s caseworker helps Andy connect with his inner Kaliope as he adjusts to a new foster home. 

The last short film, “The Hero,” was directed by Andrew Arguello and Courtney Ropp. Cody, a high school student who has Down syndrome and loves to write comic books, who has a bully. It’s an adventurous ride through Cody’s imaginary world of heroes and villains, until Cody channels his inner superhero and puts a stop to the bullying in his high school. 

The feature film, Unidentified Objects, directed by Juan Felipe Zuleta, focuses on Peter and Winona’s journey during a road trip to Canada. They start out as strangers – just neighbors in the same apartment complex. Through the trials and tribulations of an unconventional road trip involving aliens, LARPers and a bright pink car, Peter and Winona forge an unlikely friendship as they search for their places in the universe. 

The film festival also offered a Character Design workshop with Bryan Moss. His workshop focused on creating cool comics exploring heroism with children and their families. Bryan dabbles in many types of art and is also a creative director. He grew up in Columbus and has worked as a professional artist for 20 years. 

We also had the amazing opportunity to speak with Unidentified Objects actor, Matthew Jeffers. He hopped on a Zoom call to talk with us about everything from his acting career, his dream roles, the dangers of tokenization in the film industry and the importance of networking in any industry. 

ID: The image in a room with a black curtain and a screen. The screen is showing a Zoom call between 3 people. One person is sitting at table and one person is standing at a podium. There are blue, orange, red and gray chairs scattered in front of the screen. There is a gray strip patterened carpet on the floor. 

All in all, the day was magnificent! There were snacks, drinks and fidget devices provided throughout the films. The entirety of the staff at Columbus State Library were superb. They are truly an exemplary partner. 

I got a lot out of my experience of attending the festival. It was heartwarming to see people rally around an important topic that doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves – accurate representation in media. The foster care system, ASL, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and little people are all represented within these four films. As a person who is underrepresented in media, I was touched by the festival for everything that it represented – the want and need to find a community that welcomes you with open arms. It truly was an eye-opening experience for me.

This session was just the kickoff! Check out our upcoming films and join us for line-ups full of must-see films!