Films and Events

Films & Events

All ReelAbilities Film Festival events are FREE of charge to the public. ASL Interpretation, CART, adaptive listening devices, and other accommodations are available upon request. All films are captioned and all venues are wheelchair accessible. Individuals needing accommodation to participate should contact Jordan Lewis at least 72 hours in advance at 832-786-0361 or


February 12:

ReelArt: The exhibition, one of few in the country, will take place from February 12 and run through the duration of the festival at JFS Houston’s Center for Art and Photography at Celebration Company – an entrepreneurial program for adults living with disabilities who create art as an expressive outlet for creativity and as a life skill. Brandon Lack is a talented artist from Austin who has Down syndrome and specializes in using vibrant colors to paint landscapes and architecture. His career began when he was just old enough to make marks on a page and his development of self-soothing art has been effective for him and an inspiration for others. A preview of the ReelArt exhibit and meet-and-greet with Lack and other Celebration Company artists will take place from 6-8pm.

6:00 – 8:00 pm: Exhibition preview, meet and greet the artists
4131 S. Braeswood Blvd.
Houston, TX 77025

February 15:

ReelPeople: UP Abilities:
This event, a partnership with The UP Experience, is the official kickoff of the festival, and opens the festival on February 15 with presentations from extraordinary thought leaders on mental and physical disabilities and topics of inclusion. After the speakers’ presentations, attendees can attend smaller Q&A sessions with the speaker of their choice.

Full speakers lineup is as follows:

            • Mandy Harvey
              Mandy Harvey is an American singer-songwriter who is deaf and a 2017 finalist on “America’s Got Talent.” She is a spokesperson for No Barriers USA and Invisible Disabilities Association and travels the country to heighten awareness, break down barriers and challenge stereotypes.
            • Caroline Casey
              Caroline Casey, an award-winning serial social entrepreneur, is both an adventurer and business woman based in Dublin. The subject of the National Geographic documentary “Elephant Vision,” she recently completed a 1,000-kilometer journey on horseback to raise awareness for #valuable campaign, her global effort to bring inclusion to the workplace.
            • Joseph “JB” Benshimen
              Joseph Bensmihen, born with cerebral palsy, became a self-advocate at the age six when he met with Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. By age 11 he was the first disabled Canadian student to ever be mainstreamed in a public school. As an adult, JB has been a highly successful business owner, an advisor to many members of Congress and a strong advocate for people with disabilities.

February 18 – 22:

ReelAbilities Film Festival:

The 2018 festival will screen 14 films beginning February 18 through February 22 at Edwards Greenway Grand Palace Stadium 24. Each of the films feature an interactive event to foster dialogue between the audience, the filmmaker, parents, professionals, or persons with disabilities, and to explore the subjects depicted in the film.

This year’s films include:

February 18:

            • Evening Feature: Full Length (Evening film begins at 7:00 PM)
              Swim Team
              In this touching film, parents of one boy with autism from New Jersey form a competitive swim team, recruiting a diverse group of teens on the autism spectrum and training them with high expectations and zero pity.
              Director: Director Laura Stolman, 100 min, USA, English

February 19:

      • Family Friendly Shorts: (Matinee films begin at 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM)
          • 4 Quarters
            Follow the road to success of the Texas School for the Deaf Rangers, the only high school football team serving students with hearing impairments, as they take on a competitive league.
            Director: Cody Broadway, Documentary, 17 min, USA, English
          • Dancing on Wheels
            After a tragic accident, former ballerina Kitty Lunn taught herself how to dance again using her wheelchair.
            Director: Qingzi Fan, Documentary, 10 mins, USA, English
          • Picked
            From a young age, we are shaped into behaving only as our communities deem permissible. This expectation of assimilation follows us into adulthood, where we make larger and more impactful choices. When a young girl is asked to pick a pumpkin on a school field trip, she is met with confusion and reprimand from her peers and teacher – under the guise that this admonishment is in her best interest. Her process and eventual selection is a great indication of how she will make more important decisions later in her life.
            Director: Kelsey Amelia Snelling, Narrative, 8 mins, USA, English
          • Still Kicking
            Lucky Animaly, a 23-year-old Ghanaian, is a multi-talented energetic young man born with leg deformity who plays soccer with an able-bodied soccer team. Lucky strikes against all odds to become a world soccer star in Ghana.
            Director: Osei Owusu Banahene, Documentary, 5 min, Ghana, English
      • Matinee Feature: Full Length (Matinee film begins at 4:00 PM)
        Nise – The Heart of Madness – 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM
        An indomitable psychiatrist refuses to employ electroshock therapy, initiating an art therapy revolution and confronting Brazil’s mental health establishment in the 1950s. She pioneers the use of art therapy as an effective tool. Based on a true story.
        Director: Roberto Berliner, Narrative, 108 min, Brazil, Portuguese
      • Evening Feature: Full Length (Evening film begins at 7:00 PM)
        Prison Dogs – 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM
        This movie focuses on the impact of a groundbreaking program that gives two marginalized populations in our society – prison inmates and veterans with PTSD – a second chance. The program allows prison inmates to care for and train puppies as service dogs for injured veterans.
        Director: Perri Peltz, Documentary, 71 min, USA, English

    February 21

              • Matinee Feature: Full Length (Matinee film begins at 4:00 PM)
                At Eye Level
                When 11-year-old Michi finds his estranged father’s address, he can’t believe his luck. When they meet and Michi discovers that his father, Tom, has dwarfism, Michi and Tom are forced to confront both disability and fatherhood head on.
                Directors: Joachim Dollhopf and Evi Goldbrunner, Narrative, 100 min, Germany, German.
              • Evening Feature: Full Length (Evening film begins at 7:00 PM)
                My Hero Brother
                A group of young people with Down syndrome embarks on a demanding trip through the Indian Himalayas accompanied by their typically abled brothers and sisters. Unresolved conflicts and the complexities of growing up with a child who has Down syndrome in the family come to the surface, while a heartwarming and special closeness develops among the siblings as they deal with formidable physical and emotional challenges. The difficult trials and poignant relationships set against the richly colorful backdrop of India open new horizons and deepen our understanding of the challenges of young adults with disabilities and their families.
                Director: Yonatan Nir, Documentary, 78 min, Israel, Hebrew

February 22:

            • Matinee Afternoon of Shorts (Short matinee film begins at 4:00 PM)
              Andy Barrie: The Voice
              A former Candaian radio host, Andy Barrie, finds a new voice in battling Parkinson’s disease.
              Director: Lana Slezic, Documentary, 13 min, Canada, English

              Behind the Clip: Little Foxes
              Lauren Watson is a talented aerial artist with incomplete paraplegia. She has been using the art form as a fun way to get her body moving again, after being partially paralyzed from the waist down, as a result of a car accident in 2000.
              Director: Samuel Bright, Documentary, 3 min, Australia, English

              I Am Able
              In 1994, Frederick Ndabaramiye’s home country of Rwanda was torn apart. In 100 days, over one million people were killed in a horrific genocide. Four years later, the same Interhamwe rebels who spearheaded this genocide pulled over the bus that Frederick was taking to visit his aunt. What happened next would change his life forever.
              Director: Isaac Seigel-Boettner, Documentary, 12 min, USA, English

              On Beat
              A look inside the family life of deaf parents, their hearing children and the music that unites them.
              Director: Cheng Zhang and Reid Davenport, Documentary, 7 min.

              Nine-year-old Sky feels powerless and misunderstood among his hearing classmates. He thinks the outsiders don’t understand him, but does he understand them?
              Director: Loes Janssen, Documentary, 15 min, Netherlands, Dutch, Family Friendly

              Well Done
              A young man goes to visit an art museum and is fascinated by a symbolic picture.
              Director: Riccardo Di Gerlando, Narrative, 11 min, Italy, Italian

February 22:

ReelMusic: An All-Inclusive Jazz and Blues Jam:

Professional jazz and blues musicians invite musicians with disabilities to jam with the band at White Oak Music Hall on from 7-9 pm.

6:30 pm: Doors open
7:00 – 9:00 pm: Jam Session
2915 N Main St,
Houston, TX 77009

Special Events

  • Ongoing: ReelEducation

    In addition to ReelAbilities’ city-wide public events, the festival also brings free programming during the school day to Houston area schools so that the message of inclusion and the importance of arts is being communicated to our city’s youth – through film, music, and fine art. Last year, over 7000 elementary, middle and high school students participated.

  • Ongoing: ReelWorkplace

    ReelWorkplace seminars featuring films, speakers, and etiquette workshops about various topics of inclusion are attended by local companies to benefit their hiring managers, staff, and future employees.

ReelAbilities: Houston Film & Arts Festival

4131 South Braeswood Boulevard

Houston, TX 77025