ReelAbilities Toronto Film Festival
I think the whole idea behind the film festival is to tell stories that we haven’t seen, to get some conversations going, to build empathy… so people understand everybody’s got their own story and their own experience.
Liviya Mendelsohn, Artistic Director
Meet Liv Mendelsohn (Far left), Director of Accessibility and inclusion at the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre in Toronto. She’s also Artistic Director of the ReelAbilities Film Festival, now in its fourth year.
What’s unique about ReelAbilities is how it manages to mix advocacy for deaf and and other disability cultures with pure, unabashed entertainment.
“There are so many people who don’t access films because they’re either blind or low vision. And there’s no audio description or captioning. Or, they’re not shown in sensory-friendly way for folks on the Autism Spectrum.” said Liv in a recent interview. “People…just need more flexibility in how they view a film.”
Liv is passionate about building accessible communities through film presentations that embrace these accommodations – especially for school-aged youth with disabilities. Last year, the Centre launched “ReelEducation” a toolkit of curated films and lesson plans about equity and inclusion. The response has been emphatically positive: 118 schools across Ontario in 28 district school boards took up the kits.
Why do films matter? “It’s so important for people to see themselves on screen. Creating a world where we can all be our full selves – all the time – that’s what the festival’s about.”
Photograph. ©Miles Nadal JCC. 2019
For more information, visit The 2019 ReelAbilities Film Festival.