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Kean Stage presents ReelAbilities New Jersey

originally published: 02/21/2024

Kean Stage presents ReelAbilities New Jersey

(UNION, NJ) -- Kean Stage presents ReelAbilities New Jersey with screenings from Thursday, February 29 to Saturday, March 2, 2024. This film festival celebrates the lives, stories and artistic abilities of people with all types of disabilities through award-winning short and feature-length films. Films can either be screened in person at Kean University or viewed virtually from home. In-person screenings take place in the North Ave Academic Building (the corner of 1000 Morris Ave. and North Ave.) on the Kean University campus in Union.



THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 29 @ 10:00am - Jasmine is a StarStrange, and The Hero.

Jasmine is a Star, directed by Jo Rochelle; Narrative – Feature; 58 min. Jasmine, a 16-year-old with albinism, is determined to become a professional model in her hometown of Minneapolis. As she confronts societal norms and beauty standards, she explores independence and self-acceptance.

Strange, directed by Cameron Carr; Documentary – Short; 2 mins; animation, autobiography. An animated glimpse into the life of an autistic author exploring friendship, trials and the use of unique coping strategies.

The Hero, directed by Andrew Arguello, Courtney Ropp; Narrative – Short; 12 min. Cody, a high school student with Down syndrome and an aspiring comic book artist, escapes from his school bully into his imaginary world of superheroes and villains, until the superhero of his comic helps Cody find his own courage.



 
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THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 29 @ 6:00pm - Being Michelle, Super Powers and Wheels.

Being Michelle, directed by Atin Mehra; Feature – Documentary; 1 hr 20 min. The astonishing story of a woman who survived incarceration in a system that refused to accommodate her needs as a deaf person with autism. Michelle’s trajectory changed when she met Kim Law, a blind life coach who teaches in the prison. A story of redemption, this award-winning film is about the bonds between two women committed to thriving in a broken system and forging a path to healing.

Super Powers, directed by Chase Fritz; Narrative – Short; 8 min. After getting the news that her parents have been arrested for tax evasion, Emily, a struggling community college student, must take over as the primary caregiver for her teenage sister with Down syndrome.

 

Wheels, directed by Smari Gunn; Narrative – Short; 6 min. A master burglar gets himself into a tight spot when he discovers the homeowner is in.

FRIDAY, MARCH 1 @ 6:00pm -  Straighten Up & Fly Right, Coming Out Autistic and Flirting (With Possibilities) 

Straighten Up & Fly Right, directed by Kristen Abate, Steven Tanenbaum; Narrative – Feature; 1 hour 28 min. Twenty-something New Yorker Kristen battles with ankylosing spondylitis, a severe form of arthritis, and is permanently bent over. Dreaming of becoming a famous writer, she instead spends her days watching YouTube and walking dogs for a living. When Kristen’s boss sends her to walk a new client’s dog, she meets Steven, an older man with the same condition. Confronted with a mirror image of their disability, they form a connection that will change them forever.



 
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Coming Out Autistic, directed by Steven Fraser; Documentary – Short; 4 min. Queer coming out stories are well documented, while telling friends, family, co-workers, and strangers that you are autistic is shown less often. But what is the experience of telling the world that you are autistic when you also identify as LGBTQ+?

Flirting (With Possibilities), directed by Garrett Zuercher; Narrative Short; 18 min. Through trial and error, Harley, a deaf man, is determined to figure out the most effective way to flirt with the cute hearing guy he sees in the coffee shop. A glimpse of how it feels to communicate primarily via American Sign Language in a predominantly hearing, speaking, and English-using world.

SATURDAY, MARCH 2 @ 2:00pm - ReelShorts, including Charlie and the HuntTryingJust In Case6,000 Waiting, and Act of God.

Charlie and the Hunt (featuring Lauren Ridloff), directed by Jenn Shaw; Narrative – Short; 14 min. The fantastical journey of Charlie Miles, a girl with a taste for adventure. As a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults), she uses ASL while communicating with her deaf mother and sometimes with her mischievous dog. On a search to find her mother’s missing bracelet, Charlie must face her fears while recovering the sentimental family treasure.

Trying, directed by Juan Manuel Montilla “Langui”; Narrative – Short; 15 min. Santiago is a father with cerebral palsy that makes him walk with difficulty. Every day he goes to school to look for his son Diego and they walk the same way back, but today it will be different.

Just In Case, directed by Kirsty Robinson-Ward; Narrative – Short; 14 min. An exploration of what it’s like to live with bipolar disorder, through the lens of a concerned father and his scared daughter.

6,000 Waiting, directed by Michael Joseph McDonald; Documentary – Short; 30 min. Three Georgians with cerebral palsy fight to live life on their own terms. But as their families bind together, state policy tries to tear them apart.

 

Act of God (featuring Steve Way), directed by Spencer Cook, Parker Smith; Narrative – Short; 22 min. Stuart’s life is a mess. His caregivers are abandoning him and for good reason: he’s a jerk, a fact that becomes quickly apparent to the new guy tasked with getting him out of bed. Stuart’s commute to work is interrupted by the discovery of a $100 bill lying on the sidewalk, leading him on a chase that forces him to reconsider his toxic ideal of self-sufficiency.

SATURDAY, MARCH 2 @ 6:00pm

Illustrating Sam Newton, directed by Lily Drummond; Narrative – Short; 28 min. A viral online photographer wants to remain anonymous in order to hide parts of their identity. When a fan from the other side of the world makes a connection, they learn to accept themself by sharing the universal language of art.



 
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I Am Irani, directed by Farhad Irani; Documentary – Short; 40 min. Farhad, a well-known Iranian photographer, was born with a rare genetic disorder known as Treacher Collins syndrome (TCS), which affects the development of the facial structure. Although TCS has made Farhad stand out all his life, his determination and resilience are what truly set him apart.

Mike’s Words, directed by Jared Jacobsen; Documentary – Short; 11 min. A man with a rare physical disability creates films that focus on the social aspects of being a minority.

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

Tickets for each screening block are available for purchase online.

The mission of Kean Stage, known as TMPO (Theatre Management and Programming Office) as well, is to present a diverse array of professional cultural programs to supplement the intellectual life of the classroom, increase opportunities for community and university interaction, and provide affordable access to the arts for central and northern New Jersey students and residents.


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