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Superfest: The Disability Film Fest Celebrates Thirty Years

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For thirty years, Superfest: The International Disability Film Festival has given the disabled a much needed and well deserved voice. Though the disabled are the country’s largest minority group, encompassing people from all racial, ethnic, economic and LGBT backgrounds, people with disabilities are all but invisible in popular culture and in the news media.

On Saturday October 22, Superfest kicks off at the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life in Berkeley. Superfest continues on Sunday October 23 at San Francisco’s Contemporary Jewish Museum. A dozen films will be shown. There will also be moderated discussions and filmmaker Q & As.

Will Butler of the San Francisco chapter of The Lighthouse For the Blind and Visually Impaired gives us an idea of what audiences can expect. “Vibrant, fun films with characters who are deaf, blind, mobility or developmentally different,” Butler said. Most people assume those movies just don’t exist. Superfest unearths all the best ones.”

The Superfest line-up was revealed at a recent press conference inside the Lighthouse’s headquarters. It was indeed a diverse line-up. Two of the festival’s short films were screened at the press opening.

In Michael Achtman’s Awaketwo blind women enter into an unlikely friendship. Anna is a white lesbian with a chronic illness. Doreen is a black evangelist. Both characters are played by blind actors–not something we often see in the movies.

In the documentary Yam’s JourneyYam, an Israeli boy who lives with cerebral palsy, journey’s across Europe with his dad. With humor and grace, father and son deal with the realities of countries which are often inaccessible to persons with disabilities. The film was made by Rubi Gat, Yam’s father.

Still from Yam’s Journey, which screens October 22 at 1pm at Superfest.

A number of feature length films will also be shown. Countries represented include Israel, USA, Canada, England, Italy, Belgium and France. All films will be fully accessible  to the disabled, and will include descriptive audio tracks for the blind as well as subtitles for the deaf. Naturally both venues are wheelchair accessible.

Will Butler explains the importance of making these films available to the public.

“At the end of the day, everyone needs role models, and the average person gets those from the movies we watch and the stories we tell,” he said.

Superfest also serves as an education for the able bodied. “Everyone thinks of disability as a distant concept, until you look around you and realize anyone, and everyone, can and do live rich lives that include disabilities,” Butler adds. “That’s why Superfest is enjoyable for everyone: It’s about our humanity.”

Check out the complete Superfest line-up here.

Buy your tickets for Superfest here.


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David-Elijah Nahmod

David-Elijah Nahmod

I, David-Elijah Nahmod am a Queer, American/Israeli dual national of Syrian descent who has lived in New York City and Tel Aviv.
Currently in San Francisco, my eclectic writing career includes LGBT publications (news and entertainment) and monster magazines. In 2012 I was voted Film Reviewer of the Year at the Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Film Awards.
Look for me in Bay Area Reporter,, South Florida Gay News, Echo Magazine, Outfront, Scary Monsters Magazine, Videoscope, and, of course, Broke Ass Stuart, (I'm so broke it's SCARY!)
Now, let's watch a horror movie!