Film Reels


ReelAbilities programs have been presented in multiple locations across New Jersey since 2014. In 2017, the Office of Education and Community Outreach in the College of the Arts at Montclair State University, in partnership with Kean University, and JCC MetroWest, expanded the reach of ReelAbilities programming in Northern New Jersey. This initiative was made possible by a generous grant from Kessler Foundation. Montclair State University has since served as the lead location for ReelAbilities New Jersey with additional film screenings and ReelAbilities programming offered at Kean University and JCC MetroWest. Through the years, the ReelAbilities Film Festival | New Jersey has expanded further to include film screenings and special events at Montclair State University, Rutgers University, St. Peter’s University, The College of New Jersey, Kean Stage, Montclair Art Museum, Montclair Film, JCC MetroWest, JCC Middlesex, JCC Bridgewater,  and Newark Arts.

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ReelAbilities NJ partner logos

ReelAbilities Film Festival is the largest festival in the US dedicated to promoting awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories and artistic expressions of people with different disabilities.

Founded in NY in 2007, the festival presents award-winning films by and about people with disabilities in multiple locations throughout each hosting city. Post-screening discussions and other engaging programs bring together the community to explore, discuss, embrace, and celebrate the diversity of our shared human experience.

2023-2024 Events

Screening of Dustin Grella’s Various Works

April 16, 2024, 6:00 – 8:30 pm

Dustin Grella image

Location: Montclair State University / 1040 Presentation Hall, School of Communication and Media 1 Normal Avenue Montclair, NJ 07043

Co-sponsored by Montclair Film Forum.

Dustin Grella is an animator and documentary filmmaker whose work attempts to glean glimpses of colorful insight into the seemingly mundane. His work has screened at the Cannes Film Festival, Margaret Mead Film Festival, and won the Walt Disney Award at the Ottawa International Animation Festival. His film “Prayers for Peace” screened at almost two hundred festivals worldwide and won over forty awards. He has written and mailed himself a letter every day for the past ten years and has all 3650 sealed letters neatly filed and categorized. Thanks to a grant from the Franklin Furnace Fund, the collection of over 3650 letters will be displayed in New York City in April 2012. He is currently in production of the Animation Hotline, a series daily animations where he uses crowdsourced voicemail messages for content.

The screening will begin at 6:00PM followed by a Talkback.

Register today to reserve your seat.

The ReelAbilities NJ – 2023 Film Festival is brought to you by the Office of Education and Community Outreach (OECO) in the College of the Arts at Montclair State University and is made possible by a generous grant from Kessler Foundation.

The Three of Us

April 10, 2024, 1:00 pm 

The Three of Us

Location: JCC MetroWest

Director: Henya Brodbeker

Filmmaker Henya Brodbeker documents her and her husband’s struggle to provide an education and social connections for Ari, their autistic son. When the Haredi Orthodox schools in Bnei-Brak refuse to accept their son, Henya and Arale begin questioning their faith and the choices imposed upon them by their community. Their journey for integration and acceptance takes them into secular Israel, where they discover new challenges – and, possibly, solutions – for their family. Brodbeker’s camera captures the religious and cultural transformation of a family looking for their place in the world.

ReelAbilities NJ Film Festival

February 29 – March 2, 2024

FeelAbilities Film Festival 2024

Location: Kean University

Multiple Films, Including: Jasmine is a Star, Strange, The Hero, Being Michelle, Super Powers, Wheels, Straighten Up & Fly Right, Coming Out Autistic, Flirting (With Possibilities), Illustrating Sam Newton, I Am Irani, Mike’s Words.

Flay Away Home

February 20, 2024, 6:00 pm

Fly Away Home

Directed by: Janet Grillo

FLY AWAY tells the story of Jeanne and her autistic teenage daughter, Mandy. Jeanne has cared for Mandy since the day she was born, growing closer every day to a child who is charmingly offbeat one moment and nearly impossible to manage the next. As the pressures of work and her child’s needs increase, she must decide whether or not to enroll Mandy in a therapeutic residential facility. Over the course of a few weeks, Jeanne is confronted with the most difficult decision a parent can make: to let go, allowing her child to grow, but also grow apart; or to hold on tight and fall together.

Blind Injustice

February 16 & 18, 2024

Blind Injustice header logo

Location: Alexander Kasser Theatre, Montclair State University

Opera- Librettist David Cote, Composer Scott Davenport Richards

Blind Injustice explores the true stories of six people who were unjustly imprisoned and later exonerated with the help of the Ohio Innocence Project. Immediately following both performances, there will be a public conversation with two of the exonerated prisoners portrayed in the piece.

Don’t Stress the Mess

February 9, 2024, 4:30 – 5:30 pm

Don't Stress the Mess

Location: Montclair State University

The Office of Education & Community Outreach, and the ReelAbilities NJ Film Festival team joined with the Disability Resource Center to provide this event including tips and tricks to help students destress from school and life.

OKAY! (The ASD Band Film)

August 21, 2023, 6:30 pm

OKAY! The ASD Band Film

Location: Montclair State University

Director: Mark Bone

Four talented autistic musicians come together through their shared love of music and form the ASD Band. Rawan, Jackson, Spenser, and Ron shatter stereotypes about people with autism and navigate a world where they are often misunderstood. As they write, record, and perform their first album, they find strength in each other and the music.

32 Sounds Screening

November 7, 2023, 6:00 pm

32 Sounds image
Free with RSVP

Location: Alexander Kasser Theater, 1 Normal Ave Hall, Suite 171, Montclair, NJ 07043

This film, “32 Sounds” explores the elemental phenomenon of sound and its power to bend time, cross borders, and profoundly shape our perception of the world around us.

This event is sponsored by the Montclair Film Forum Program and Co-Sponsored by ReelAbilities Film Festival.

For any accessibility needs or requests, please email us at at least 2 weeks prior to the event. If you have specific accessibility questions, please email:

The ReelAbilities NJ – 2023 Film Festival is brought to you by the Office of Education and Community Outreach (OECO) in the College of the Arts at Montclair State University and is made possible by a generous grant from Kessler Foundation.

Amazing Grace

December 3, 2023, 4:00 pm

Amazing Grace

Location: Montclair State University

Director: Lynn Montgomery

Members of Montclair Film 505 Friends enjoyed a field trip to Montclair State University for a screening of Amazing Grace.

Grace Fisher was an active musician and dancer until a rare spine disease almost derailed her budding career. In this new 56 minute, award winning documentary we see grief transformed into gratitude, and tragedy turned into opportunity.


Past Events

2022-2023 Events

Champions Screening and Q&A with Athenea Mata (Actress) and Javier Fesser (Director)

May 3, 2023

Champions film image

Spanish film Champions (CAMPEONES) tells the heart-warming tale of how Marco, a selfish, self-absorbed basketball coach, changes for the better after being forced to work with a rag-tag group of individuals with intellectual disabilities.

Light refreshments will be served in the SCM Lobby at 4:30PM. The screening will begin at 5:00PM followed by a Q&A session at 7:15PM.

This event is sponsored by the Department of Theatre and Dance and ReelAbilities NJ Film Festival.

The ReelAbilities NJ – 2023 Film Festival is brought to you by the Office of Education and Community Outreach (OECO) in the College of the Arts at Montclair State University and is made possible by a generous grant from Kessler Foundation.

Ali Stroker

April 1, 2023

Image of 2019 Tony Award Winner Ali Stroker

Ali Stroker won the 2019 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her role as ‘Ado Annie’ in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! She’s a series regular in the Netflix series, Echoes, and she recently starred in the Lifetime holiday film, Christmas Ever After. She made history as the first actor in a wheelchair to appear on Broadway in Deaf West’s acclaimed 2015 revival of Spring Awakening. Ali recurred in the final season of Netflix’s Ozark and is in her second season recurring in Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building. She co-wrote the 2021 novel, The Chance to Fly, and she wrote the 2022 children’s book, Ali and the Sea Stars. This past summer, she was featured as ‘Lady Anne’ in the Shakespeare in the Park production of Richard III. She’s performed her cabaret act at New York’s Green Room 42 and solo’ed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, New York’s Town Hall, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and Carnegie Hall. Her mission to improve the lives of others through the arts is captured in her motto: “Turning Your Limitations Into Your Opportunities.”

ReelAbilities Film Festival

March 30, 2023 – April 1, 2023

Kean 2023 ReelAbilities Film Festival collage

ReelAbilities New Jersey celebrates the lives, stories, and artistic abilities of people with all types of disabilities through award-winning short and feature-length films.

The ReelAbilities Film Festival runs from Thursday, March 30, to Saturday, April 1, 2023. Films can either be screened in-person at Kean University or viewed virtually from home.

North Avenue Academic Center [NAAB]
1000 Morris Avenue (at the corner of North Ave.)
Union, NJ 07083

A talkback and Q&A session will follow all screenings.

  • Screening 1: Thursday, March 30 at 6:00 pm
  • Screening 2: Friday, March 31 at 6:00 pm
  • Screening 3: Saturday, April 1 at 11:30 am
  • Screening 4: Saturday, April 1 at 2:30 pm

Please note: The above times are when the auditorium will open to kick off the day’s program. Film screenings will begin 30 minutes after the doors open, and post-screening talkbacks will be approximately 30 minutes. Please plan your arrival and departure times accordingly.

There is a suggested donation of $5 per session.

A donation can be made through the Kean Foundation or in person at the film festival.

I DO! Commit to Marriage Equality

February 15, 2023

I DO! Commit to Marriage Equality

Location: Montclair State University

Co-Sponsored with the Disability Caucus at Montclair State University

On the heels of Valentine’s Day, Patrice Jetter, disabled artist and advocate from Netflix’s WORN STORIES, officiated a mass (low commitment) commitment/wedding ceremony where all guests were invited to participate. This act of solidarity was of course not legally binding, but provided allies and spectators with the opportunity to support disabled marriage equality. As a fun form of participation, guests were encouraged to wear festive wedding attire. Interracial and gay marriage has been codified at last. But disabled Americans remain excluded from this basic right. The federal “marriage penalty” affects the lives of millions of disabled Americans who can’t legally marry because they will lose their benefits. A new bill in the Senate could change the “marriage penalty” if enough people speak out.


August 24, 2023, 6:00 pm

A seated young woman with a grey hoodie and a purple cap

As a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults) Ruby is the only hearing person in her deaf family. When the family’s fishing business is threatened, Ruby finds herself torn between pursuing her love of music by wanting to go to Berklee College of Music and her fear of abandoning her parents. Every family has its own language.

DIRECTOR: Sian Heder
PRODUCER: Fabrice Gianfermi, Philippe Rousselet, Jérôme Seydoux, Patrick Wachsberger
CAST: Emilia Jones, Tony Kotsur, Marlee Matlin
RUNTIME: 111 min

September  22-25: Prince Hamlet (Co-sponsored by ReelAbilities NJ and Kessler Foundation)

See details and get tickets (Use promo code RANJ2022 for 20% discount)

Prince Hamlet actors preforming on stage

Performed in the spoken word and American Sign Language. Remixed, reimagined, and bilingual Prince Hamlet features a cross-cultural, gender-bent cast – challenging traditional ideas of who can tell this story.  Interweaving Shakespeare’s spoken text with heightened and poetic American Sign Language, this physical theatre production creates a visually stunning retelling for both hearing and Deaf audiences.

Wednesday,  September 28 (6:00-8:00pm): Screening of We Hear You (Documentary) and Talkback with Shari Eberts and Holly Cohen

See details and reserve your seat here.

We Hear You documentary logo

We Hear You is a groundbreaking documentary about hearing loss, the invisible disability that impacts 430 million people worldwide, including 48 million in the United States alone. By shining a light on the hearing loss experience, it strives to build awareness, community and a more inclusive world for all.

Join the talkback with Shari Eberts and Holly Cohen (executive producers of the documentary) and Maryrose McInerney (faculty in Communication Sciences and Disorders). The discussion will be moderated by Christine Lemesianou, Associate Dean in the College of the Arts.

Shari Eberts

Shari Eberts is a passionate hearing health advocate and internationally recognized author and speaker on hearing loss issues. She is the founder of Living with Hearing Loss, a popular blog and online community for people with hearing loss, and an executive producer of We Hear You, an award-winning documentary about the hearing loss experience. Her book, Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss, (co-authored with Gael Hannan) is the ultimate survival guide to living well with hearing loss. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, she will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues. Connect with Shari: BlogFacebookLinkedInTwitter.

Holly Cohen

Holly Cohen is a nationally-recognized hearing health advocate and speaker who was diagnosed with a bilateral hearing loss in her 20’s. Drawing on her experiences as Past President of the Hearing Loss Association of America – New York City Chapter (HLAA-NYC), CEO of a small business, and over 25 years as a professional career coach, Holly is committed to empowering others to advocate for their hearing needs. She is an executive producer of the award-winning documentary about living with hearing loss, We Hear You. Holly serves on the Boards of HLAA-NYC chapter and TDF (Theatre Development Fund).

Tuesday, November 15 (6:30-8:00pm): Screening of As We See It and Talkback with Jason Katims (creator, showrunner and executive producer of the series)

See details and reserve your seat here.

TV Series As We See It Actors

The series follows Jack, Harrison, and Violet, 20-something roommates on the autism spectrum, as they strive to get a job, keep a job, make friends, fall in love and navigate a world that eludes them. With the help of their families, aide, and sometimes even each other, these roommates experience setbacks and celebrate triumphs on their own unique journeys towards independence and acceptance.

Tuesday, December 6 (6:30-8:00pm): Screening of Addicted to Life (Documentary) and Live Talkback with Filmmaker Pola Rappaport

See details and reserve your seat here.

Documentary poster featuring Marieke Vervoort, Belgian Paralympic champion

Strong-willed, funny, and charismatic, at 37, Belgian Paralympic champion Marieke Vervoort’s time is running out. A debilitating illness she has had for more than 20 years has begun to take its toll. As Marieke’s strength falters and her body begins to fail, she decides to take control by signing papers to request medical aid-in-dying, a controversial procedure that is forbidden by law in most other countries. Liberated and empowered by now having the legal permission to end her life, Marieke again discovers the freedom and thrill of living and of competition. Throughout, Marieke draws people to her: fans, girlfriends, celebrities, and other people with disabilities. ADDICTED TO LIFE  intimately documents this determined, vulnerable, and astonishing athlete through the dramatic events of her final inspirational three years, during which Marieke’s acceptance of death becomes an affirmation of life. Marieke demystifies one of the most controversial issues of our time.

2021-2022 Events

Tuesday, August 31 (6:30-8:00pm): Screening of Best Summer Ever

See details and reserve your seat here.

Movie poster with actors

Tuesday, September 28 (6:15-8:30pm): Screening of Deaf Jam

See details and reserve your seat here.

Documentary Poster with Actor

Tuesday, October 19 (6:15-8:30pm): Virtual screening of Behind the Scenes of On Display mini-documentary as well as “Conversations With… ” Elaine Katz and Heidi Latsky about the making of On Display. See details and register here.

On Display Screenshot

Tuesday, November 9 (6:15-8:30pm): Virtual pre-screening of Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution as well as “Conversations with …. ” Directors James Lebrecht and Nicole Newnham. See details and register here.

Crip Camp screenshot

March 11- March 17 (8:00pm): CODA (Co-Sponsored by Montclair Film and ReelAbilities NJ)

Get your tickets now!

A seated young woman with a grey hoodie and a purple cap

As a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults) Ruby is the only hearing person in her deaf family. When the family’s fishing business is threatened, Ruby finds herself torn between pursuing her love of music by wanting to go to Berklee College of Music and her fear of abandoning her parents. Every family has its own language.

DIRECTOR: Sian Heder
PRODUCER: Fabrice Gianfermi, Philippe Rousselet, Jérôme Seydoux, Patrick Wachsberger
CAST: Emilia Jones, Tony Kotsur, Marlee Matlin
RUNTIME: 111 min

Wednesday, April 13 (6:00-7:30pm): Disability – No Laughing Matter (Featuring Steve Way, Comedian and Disability Activist)

Reserve your seat today.

A young male with light skin using a wheelchair and wearing a blue shirt, a red tie, and sunglasses. Behind him, there is a tan wall. 

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