Ali Stroker, Glee cast member and the first actress in a wheelchair to perform on Broadway; actress Kathy Buckley, a motivational speaker and the first female comedienne with hearing loss; and hearing-impaired performance group Silent No More headlined the ReelAbilities Montclair Film Festival – the largest of its kind in the country – held at Montclair State this fall.
“ReelAbilities promotes awareness of the lives, stories and artistic expressions of people with different abilities by challenging assumptions and generating discussions about abilities, differences and similarities, and inclusion in society – while busting stereotypes and attitudes that can be discriminatory, restrictive and limiting,” says Fran Karen Prezant, a festival organizer and professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.
As an official host of the national event, Montclair State screened award-winning films selected by the festival’s New York City screening committee from over 1,000 competitive submissions that redefined what it means to be “normal.”
Discussions featuring Stroker, Buckley and area advocates from Easter Seals New Jersey and Achilles International were held after each screening. Additional films were shown at the JCC Metrowest in West Orange as part of the festival.
Founded eight years ago in New York City, this year’s ReelAbilities included more than 15 venue cities nationwide. Montclair State previously served as a venue site in 2013 and 2014.