Reel Abilities Film Festival

By Josh Grewal,  Assistant Social Media Editor

The Reel Abilities Film Festival was an amazing event held on campus earlier this month. For over 10 years, NYC Reel Abilities has highlighted films made by people with disabilities in order to shed light on their work.

Sophomore education major Amanda Uhrig co-chaired the event. Part of her role was picking which films would be shown during the festival, an enjoyable experience that she discussed in an email to The Quadrangle.

“It was really the entries that inspired me. It was so hard to choose which films we were showing because every single one had its own inspiring story, truly,” wrote Uhrig.

The festival promotes the work of people with disabilities, while also spreading awareness. Uhrig explained the importance of having knowledge about disabilities.

“100 percent, there has to be more information about people with disabilities,” wrote Uhrig.  “I’m an education major so I’m taking a class currently with Dr. Zealand about specifically students with disabilities. However, even if you aren’t an education major I urge you to find more information about people with disabilities and educate yourself. Educating people on disabilities in general can get rid of any stigmas or stereotypes that they may have. No matter what area of study you’re going into, you are always going to be engaging with someone with a disability, whether you know it or not.”

“Reel Abilities Film Festival Highlights Work by Individuals with Disabilities” is published in the Quadrangles Special Issue: The Uncommon Issue

Samantha Keating, a sophomore education major who also co-chaired the festival, further explained the event and its importance to her in an email to The Quadrangle.

“Personal motives definitely do drive my goals, not only am I pursuing my masters in special education but my younger brother is autistic. Just because somebody has a disability does not mean they are any less worthy of having equal rights and the privilege of having their story told,” wrote Keating.

She also touched upon how the school could improve their knowledge and education of people with disabilities.

“Hopefully Manhattan College can continue bringing awareness to various issues. Taking on the responsibility as an advocate goes beyond posting on Instagram. Advocating for someone or a group of people is consistent dedication to raising awareness and fighting for equality,” said Keating. 

Senior Danielle Rivas attended the festival, and discussed her experience watching the films and why she found it important.

“I think that these films, like the films that they showed, really highlight the importance of representation and demonstrate how individuals who have disabilities are really further disenfranchised by depictions of their reality that are limiting,” said Rivas. “So like movies that show disabled people, and you’re meant to look at them as their disability as opposed to viewing them as a person who simply has a disability. And I feel like the film festival really brought that to light and that was something that we were able to talk about and have really rich discussions on.”

Rivas also touched upon how her major was intertwined with the topic and how it helped to further her curiosity.

“I’m in the five year program, my major is adolescent [education]. My master’s is gonna be in special education actually,” said Rivas. “So with that background, I felt that these films made me feel like even more called into special education. They made me realize how important it is to have advocates for students with disabilities and how important it is for us to just be aware of these issues and just talk about them. I feel like a lot of things become taboo because we’re too afraid to have conversations about them.”

Uhrig continues by talking about the deeper meaning behind the festival and how she continues to advocate for individuals with disabilities by giving them a platform.

“By showing these films, I hope that we can spread the messages of these filmmakers, writers and actors,” wrote Uhrig. “All of the films shown are made by, about or starring someone with a disability. By hosting this, I’m hoping that people can watch and enjoy but more importantly learn something new.”