On March 15th, Row New York’s adaptive and para teams headed to the Reelabilities: NY Disabilities Film Festival— the largest festival in the country dedicated to promoting awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories and artistic expressions of people with different disabilities. Row New York competitive para-rower Jessica De La Rosa shares her perspective of the day.
This was my first time attending the Reelabilities Film Festival and it was amazing! For starters, having the opportunity to watch films based off of various disabilities was certainly informative, entertaining, and a treat!
Each film brought a unique perspective to each disability, and highlighted these perspectives in comical, compassionate and educational ways. Having a disability myself, I still learned much about other disabilities with an audience of friends who shared disabilities, as well as those without disabilities. I felt that those without disabilities in attendance saw how the films explored another side to disability on a positive level, as opposed to the stereotypes that are usually portrayed.
Some of the films included Jon Imber’s Left Hand which was about a artist with Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS). Keep Rollin’ was a hilarious film about people with various disabilities in a group home and how they plot to rob a gas station. Another great film was the Guest Room, which explored a couple with Down Syndrome who are about to have a child.
It was a nice experience to watch Endless Abilities with the Row New York competitive and recreational family, and it was definitely nice to see rowing featured in the film. Other teammates, Coach Carol, and myself had the honor of meeting with Zack (the film’s main character) after the film and talked about adaptive sports. The film allowed us to see more then the typical adaptive basketball team, and it was exciting to see that many people with disabilities are getting involved in the sports community.
I highly recommend this wonderful film experience to everyone! It is a great way to learn, breakdown stereotypes, and get the word out that people with disabilities do not have to be labeled as a negative stereotype. Many people with physical and cognitive disabilities live fulfilling lives like everyone else. It’s just the matter of those without exposure to the disability community to learn, accept, and embrace our world; I believe the Reelabilities Film Festival is helping to bring that out.