The 2019 edition of the Annual Celebration of Individuals with Disabilities in Film took place at Pace University on Thursday, April 5, 2019. This was the seventh year the festival has taken place, and it proved to be an evening no less compelling than in previous years.
“[The] festival is important as a forum in learning about a marginalized population of society . . . that desires recognition and respect like those without disabilities,” said Dr. James Lawler, Seidenberg professor and the chair and organizer of the event.
Dr. Lawler explained that visibility is unfortunately still a big issue for people with disabilities: “Most students in the school and in the university do not know of the issues of those with disabilities in society and their struggles to be like those without disabilities. Those with disabilities, developmental or non-developmental, are a ‘hidden’ minority in society.”
The event opened with a cocktail hour as guests arrived, and before long the Bianco Room (one of Pace University’s largest event spaces) was completely filled with almost 200 guests. Seidenberg alumna, Tabitha Haly, was back to perform original songs before the keynote presentation by the Honorable Angelo Santabarbara with his son Michael.
Dean for Students Marijo Russel O’Grady then gave her remarks and introduced the distinguished expert panelists: Victor Calise, Allan B. Goldstein, Tabithy Haly, Maria Hodermarska, Betsy Lynam, and the Honorable Angelo Santabarbara. After each film, the panel would discuss what they had seen, each person providing their own unique insights.
It was time for the movie marathon. During the event, the films that were screened where:
- JMAXX AND THE UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE by Ryan Mayers
- KILL OFF by Genevieve Clay-Smith
- SOPHIE from Pace University – College of Health Professions
- FIGHTER by Bugsy Steel
- ARETHA from New York University – Tandon School of Engineering
- SURREALITY by Meg Vatterott, Huong Troung, Marta Payne, and Olivia Liu
- BEING SEEN by Paul Zehrer
“The genesis of the 7th Annual Celebration of People With Disabilities in Film goes back more than seven years. It has its roots in Pace University’s commitment to Service Learning; it takes its inspired use of technology from its home in the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems,” said Dr. Jonathan Hill, Dean of the Seidenberg School at Pace University. “Most importantly, it gets its passion from the work of Dr. Jim Lawler of the Seidenberg School and his partners at AHRC, as well as the many non-profits that help to meet the needs of the disabled in our community by helping them to meet their challenges and celebrate their triumphs.”
Many of these films and more are available online at Sproutflix, and if you missed the event this year don’t worry – the 8th Annual Celebration will be taking place in 2020 at Pace University once more.
Want to read about previous film festivals? We did a blog post on last year’s here and the fifth annual film festival here.