By Michael Rock:

One creative pursuit that some people with disabilities may use to express themselves is filmmaking.

From March 31 to April 6, the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan will host the 12th Annual ReelAbilities Film Festival will showcase numerous films from around the world made by people with disabilities and/or that depict them in realistic and sensitive lights. All venues are accessible to those with mobility impairments, and various accommodations are available at all movies.

Meanwhile, the British Film Institute (BFI) recently announced plans to better include filmmakers with disabilities in the productions they support, such as accessible sets, equal pay for those with disabilities involved in the production, as well as prioritizing actors with disabilities to play characters with disabilities.

In California, filmmakers with disabilities have an advocate in John Travolta’s brother, Joey. A former special education teacher, his nonprofit, Inclusion Films, teaches them filmmaking skills. One of their productions, “Carol of the Bells” won the title of “Audience Favorite Feature” at the San Diego International Film Festival.

The work of such individuals and groups of people plays a crucial role in the representation of people with disabilities in the cast and crew of television and film productions. By promoting them, we offer opportunities to let them shine and break down stigmas.

Michael Rock is a New York City-based reporter and self-advocate with autism. A graduate of Brandeis University, his work has appeared in Kings County Politics, Chelsea Now, Our Town, Queens County Politics, and WhoWhatWhy.