Philadelphia’s ‘ReelAbilities’ film festival focuses on disabilities

    A film festival called “ReelAbilities” is opening in Philadelphia Sunday. All featured movies and documentaries deal with the issue of disabilities.

    In the opening scenes of the documentary “Warrior Champions,” one of the featured films, young Iraq vet Melissa Stockwell speaks to a group of school students.

    “How many of you have ever seen prosthetic leg,” she asks her audience. She then casually rolls up her pant leg to show off her prosthesis, which starts midway down her upper thigh.

    She explains how she lost her left leg while on duty in Iraq, and how she started to regain her life through rigorous swimming exercise.

    The film follows Stockwell and other severely disabled vets as they compete in the Paralympic Games.

    It’s one of eight films that will be shown during the festival. Each film deals with a different aspect or type of disability, says Sherrie Eisman of the Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Greater Philadelphia, which sponsors the festival.

    She hopes the festival will will spark a conversation about an issue that remains uncomfortable for many people.

    “Many of us know words that describe people with disabilities, but we don’t know people with disabilities,” said Eisman. “But the truth is we go to school with them, we work with them, we live with them, and we really need to have a dialogue and greater appreciation for what it means to live with disabilities.”

    Another featured film is “Shooting Beauty,” the story of a fashion photographer whose career takes an unexpected turn when she starts working with people living with significant intellectual and physical disabilities.

    Films will be shown in venues all over the city, through June 10.

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