ReelAbilities: Denver Film Festival Promotes Awareness and Appreciation of People with Different Disabilities Through Film 

The JCC Mizel Arts and Culture Center is hosting the first ever Colorado-based ReelAbilities: Denver Film Festival from May 5-8, 2021. The entirely virtual festival includes diverse and thought-provoking films alongside supplemental content including discussions and panels by, for, and about people with various disabilities. To continue their dedication to inclusivity, the JCC Mizel Arts and Culture Center will provide several accessibility features for films and the supplemental content to ensure the festival can be enjoyed by everyone.

“We are excited to bring ReelAbilities to Colorado, and we’re honored to be the newest host site of the festival,” said Amy Weiner Weiss, Director of Festivals at the Mizel Arts and Culture Center. “Through ReelAbilities, we have the opportunity to highlight a robust catalog of films that connects us to fellow presenters all around the world. Hosting ReelAbilities: Denver allows us to not only bring this important programming to our own community, but it helps shine a light on the importance of inclusivity and the organizations doing this work locally.”

“In the world we live in, there are so many people who are unaware of the uniqueness of people with differences and I always want to try to bring more awareness to these people,” said Jane E Rosenbaum, festival sponsor. “I hope the community sees how important it is to look beyond appearances and get to know people, all kinds of people; people who are different from themselves. In that way, I hope that the world can be a more welcoming and less judgmental place for all of us.”

Films and supplemental programs that relate to the content of the films that are showing at the festival include:

  • Film: Code of the Freaks – In this blistering critique of Hollywood representations of disabled characters, Code of the Freaks gives the mic to some of Hollywood’s most incensed and ignored critics – actual disabled people.
  • A panel conversation about representation, visibility, and identity – Hosted by Phamaly Theatre Company, with SAG-AFTRA and Code of the Freaks filmmakers.
  • Film: There’s Still Hope for Dreams: A PHAMALY Story – The inspiring and extraordinary story of Denver’s own Phamaly Theatre Company, a critically acclaimed troupe of performers whose actors and actresses all live with some form of disability.
  • Film: Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405 – A portrait of a brilliant artist, represented by one of Los Angeles’ top galleries, whose body of raw, emotional work reveals a lifetime of extreme depression and anxiety. The film will be accompanied by a pre-recorded conversation with the film’s director, Frank Stiefel, and festival staff.
  • A Creative Mindfulness Workshop entitled “How To Be Within Me” – Facilitated by visual storyteller and Colorado Art Therapy Association Board Member Arielle Rothenberg, MPS.
  • Film: Living Art – The story of a young woman living with Familial Dysautonomia, whose art became her stunning and profound means of communication and livelihood. The film will be accompanied by a pre-recorded conversation with director David Rochkind, Mara Clawson, whom the film is about, and festival staff.
  • Film: Spectrum: A Story of the Mind – A live-action and animated documentary exploring sensory issues through the lens of various autistic individuals. Features Colorado-based scientist, activist, and scholar Dr. Temple Grandin. The film will be accompanied by a pre-recorded conversation with Dr. Temple Grandin and festival staff.
  • Film: Jmaxx and the Universal Language – Jarell is a Chicago teenager with autism, who has found hip hop dance as a way to communicate his true self to the world. The film will be accompanied by a pre-recorded conversation Q&A with director Ryan Mayers, Jarell Sullivan, whom the film is about, and festival staff.
  • Adaptive Dance/Movement Class – For all ages and all abilities, presented by Colorado Conservatory of Dance in partnership with Art as Action.

To ensure the festival is inclusive and accessible to everyone, both films and supplemental programs will offer open captioning, audio description and ASL interpretation.

Festival attendance is “Pay What You Can” to allow participation of all interested community members at any ticket price that is accessible to them. The recommended ticket price is $12 for feature-length films and supplemental programs,and $6 for short films. All festival content will be offered virtually and on-demand for home access at any time of day to users across the U.S. during the entirety of the festival.

To reserve your tickets, visit

ReelAbilities: Denver Film Festival
Presented to JCC Mizel Arts and Culture Center
May 5-8, 2021