ReelAbilities: Portland–submit your short film now!

Listen to this post: 

In the earlier days of this blog, I liked to do a Spotlight on Disability Film Festivals feature sometimes. My hope was that each year there might be new festivals to add to the spotlight. Alas, new ones don’t crop up on any kind of regular basis. I think disability art and disability media might generally be stuck in these two spots: people either view disability media only as educational or enlightening for non-disabled audiences, or it’s supposed to be only for disabled people and no one else should be interested. You know from my past media work that I’m all for people creating media specifically for the disability community to enjoy. But that’s never meant that non-disabled people shouldn’t enjoy it. They just have to remember they might not be the target audience. That’s OK. I watch, read, and listen to media that’s clearly not putting my personal tastes and interests at the center. Nor should it. Diversity in media means not just who’s making the work and starring in it but who it’s designed to appeal to. And as for education, hey, that’s a great thing. There’s always room for more of it. It’s just that my hide keeps chapping over the way that disability-related topics get automatically lumped into educational. It can be so much more than that.

I have a new film festival to spotlight today! It’s extra near and dear to my heart because I’m on the planning committee. This is the first time that the national ReelAbilities festival will be held in Portland, OR. So cool.

ReelAbilities Portland Film Festival logo in dark gray with white and orange text.ReelAbilities is based out of New York City, and over the years, other cities across the U.S. have taken on hosting their own local versions of it. Disability Art and Culture Project has signed on as the ReelAbilities: Portland organizers. In a few months, you’ll get more info on screenings (May 27-29th, fyi). In today’s post, I’m more than excited to let you know that we’re taking submissions from local filmmakers to add to the ReelAbilities roster for the Portland only festival. Kind of a local showcase portion. Here’s the info for anyone in Multnomah, Clackamas, or Washington County. (Please, no submissions from any other counties!)

We’re looking for films 3-30 minutes in length. To align with DACP’s mission, we prioritize films with an affirmative disability identity message, disability pride, and films that highlight intersections of marginalized identities and voices. We’re not looking for films with an emphasis on medical research and cures, disability as pitiful or inspiring, or stories where non-disabled people speak for people with disabilities.

Visit this site to fill out the application and upload your film: 

Submission fee is $15 per film.

Deadline for submission is February 15, 2016. Films that are selected must provide Closed Captions or Open Captions (with a black bounding box) by March 29, 2016.

If you don’t already have captions, we provide a list of local companies offering captioning services on the FilmFreeway submission form.

For more info, feel free to reach out to me at or ReelAbilities: Portland at

To learn more about the national ReelAbilities Film Festival project, please visit

Please share with anyone in your network who has made a film or video since 2010 by, with, or about Disability community.