Contest entries sought: ReelAbilities Film Festival opens in June

Lights! Camera! Action! The ReelAbilities Minneapolis-St. Paul Disability Film Festival is back for a second time, and promises to be […]

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Lights! Camera! Action! The ReelAbilities Minneapolis-St. Paul Disability Film Festival is back for a second time, and promises to be bigger and better than ever. Planning is well underway for the 2015 event June 11-14, in conjunction with the upcoming 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) celebration.

Partnership Resources Inc. (PRI), which is leading the planning efforts for ReelAbilities, invites everyone to an upcoming festival information meeting, 3-5 p.m. Thursday, February 12 at PRI, 1069 10th Ave SE, Minneapolis. Anyone with questions can contact Dan Reed, PRI’s director of marketing, at 952-925-1404 or [email protected]

Founded in 2007, the ReelAbilities Film Festival is held annually in more than a dozen major U.S. cities. It began in New York City.

The first Minneapolis-St. Paul festival was organized and hosted by PRI in 2013 at multiple venues. The first Minnesota event drew more than 2,000 people. See a short film highlighting the first Twin Cities festival at

Photo courtesy of PRI

Photo courtesy of PRI

The idea of an encore to the 2013 event drew a strong and positive reaction from PRI’s board and staff, said Reed. Holding the festival just before the statewide ADA celebration in July has also drawn a favorable reception.

“The 2013 festival and the films shown had such an impact, and sent such a positive message,” Reed said. “Films or video are such a powerful way of communicating and can change perceptions, especially perceptions of people with disabilities.”

The festival’s lineup of films hasn’t been finalized but it promises to be another program of diverse features for festival-goers to enjoy. Those who attended the 2013 got to meet many actors and directors. One popular feature was an actors’ workshop with actors from the Guthrie Theatre.

“That workshop was so well-received, we’ll do something like it again,” said Reed. People with disabilities and their family members praised the workshop. Family members of one participant said it helped the young man become more self-confident and assertive.

For 2015, PRI, Independent Filmmaker Project Minnesota, Twin Cities Public Television (tptMN), and Minnesota State Council on Disabilities are partnering to create a film shorts program for this year’s Minneapolis-St. Paul ReelAbilities, a Salute to Minnesota Filmmakers of All Abilities. The festival is looking for films by and about people with disabilities that creatively and compellingly explore, discuss, and celebrate the diversity of the shared human experience.

Deadline for submission is May 15 and there is no application fee.Films must be 20 minutes or less in length for the ReelAbilities Minneapolis-St. Paul-Independent Filmmakers Project Minnesota challenge. A limited number of films that are five minutes or less in length will also be included in a one-hour TPT program for broadcast. The documentary will also profile the filmmakers who created the featured works. Filmmakers whose work is selected for broadcast must be willing to be interviewed on-camera for the program. A panel of judges consisting of media professionals will judge the submissions.

Films can be from disability service and advocacy organizations and individuals of all ages. All genres are accepted, including narrative, documentary, animation, music video or experimental formats. Entrants must have resided in Minnesota at the time the submitted work was produced. For this inaugural year there are no restrictions about the completion date of work. Anyone with questions can contact Reilly Tillman, at [email protected] 

Reed said the intent is that the TPT-produced documentary, which will premiere at the film festival, will run on their network for a year to recognize and celebrate the successes of all Minnesotans as everyone reflects on the progress over the past 25 years since the passage of the ADA.

Festival organizers don’t expect a shortage of materials for the challenge. Reed said a call is also being put out to all Minnesota nonprofits that work with people with disabilities to send their favorite fundraising videos as well.

Other ways groups and individuals can get involved is to become event sponsors or volunteers. The current volunteer needs are for help with marketing, social media and media contacts, the help get the word out. There’s also a need for volunteers to help set up and then work at the event itself.

Sponsors are already lining up, including Medica Foundation at $10,000, $4,000 for scholarships from the Barry Family and an in-kind donation for printing. ReelAbilities will have information on the PRI website, at The organization also has a Facebook page, at MinneapolisStPaul



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