Helping Hands

Houston Fest Keeps It 'Reel' With Films, Art and Inclusion

The annual ReelAbilities event embraces storytelling centered on people with disabilities.

By Sofia Gonzalez December 7, 2021

Artist Sevy Marie is the 2022 ReelArt feature artist whose work will be exhibited alongside artists from The Celebration Company

Houston is no stranger to diversity and inclusion. This remains especially true for the city’s art scene, as 2022 marks the 10th anniversary of ReelAbilities Houston’s annual film and arts festival. 

Since the festival was founded in New York, it has been established in 17 cities across the United States, Mexico and Canada. It offers free arts events to bring awareness to communities of people with disabilities. 

“ReelAbilities Houston is known as one of the most innovative festivals on the national scene, having expanded our festival beyond just films to showcase impactful art, music, speaker and workplace events,” said Marcy Margolis, a festival co-chair. “Through these platforms, we learn empathy and gratitude, barriers come down, and our minds are opened to new possibilities.”  

This year’s festival took place virtually, and included an opening night film discussion about the Netflix documentary Rising Phoenix, the world premiere of One Step at a Time, commissioned art from Celebration Company, a discussion about the Code of the Freaks documentary, ReelSpeakers, ReelMusic, a lunchtime panel with Houston Business Journal, and more. 

Handwritten note from ‘ReelFeelings’ wall at the ReelAbilities Film and Art Festival. 

In celebration of its decade-long run, ReelAbilities Houston Film and Art Festival will return February 15-24, with a pre-festival art opening on February 6. Festival attendees will experience award-winning films, the ReelPeople: UP abilities speakers event, ReelMusic Concert, ReelArt, with works from Celebration Company artists and Sevy Marie, along with educational programs from workplaces and schools around Houston. All events are free.

Eve Lapin and Marcy Margolis have been named chairs of the 2022 festival, with Diana Codispoti and Michael McCulloch as co-chairs. All chairs and co-chairs are heavily involved within the Houston community and want to make a difference, giving a voice to those who deal with both visible and invisible disabilities. 

“The planning team for ReelAbilities Houston is passionate about inclusion for all people,” said Lapin in a statement. “We have been working with our committees, sponsors, and collaborating partners to create this 10th annual festival, in order to help eliminate barriers to accessibility in the arts, culture, education and employment.  We hope to enrich, entertain, enlighten, engage, and empower the people of Houston."

Houston’s festival is made possible because of its city host, JFS Alexander Institute for Inclusion and is produced in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, along with founding partner TIRR Memorial Hermann, and their lead sponsors, Cornerstone Home Lending Inc. and Joan and Stanford Alexander. 

ReelAbilities Houston’s 10th Film and Art Festival runs February 15-24. To stay up-to-date on the festival via their website.

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