The premiere night of ReelAbilities will be held Saturday at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Other films will be shown at locations throughout the region.
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ReelAbilities film festival aims to showcase stories, art of people with disabilities

Festival runs March 9-16

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CINCINNATI - A film festival in Cincinnati starting this weekend aims to share the stories, lives and art of people with disabilities.

It's Cincinnati's second year for ReelAbilities, the film festival that was founded in 2007 in New York.

Local nonprofits Visionaries + Voices and Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled are presenting the event, and more than 17 screenings will take place at locations around town. The premiere will be held Saturday at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

Freedom Center CEO Kim Robinson called the event "a match made in heaven" for the museum.

"The Freedom Center stands for freedom," he said. "The story of people with disabilities being truly integrated into society is the story of freedom."

Local festival organizers had special guests in town Friday to kick off the event.

Civil rights attorney Richard Bernstein, who has been blind since birth, said he was excited to come to Cincinnati from his home in Detroit and be part of the event.

"The way that you have an effect is by changing perceptions," he said. "The reason this festival is so important is because everything is about perceptions."

Actors John Lawson and Kurt Yeager said they hope the event will draw attention to the contributions that people with disabilities can make in the arts and entertainment industries.

"I love the festival's theme – we're different – like you," said Lawson, who is a double hand amputee and lives in Greater Cincinnati. "Everybody's different."

Yeager, perhaps best known for his recurring role as Greg "the Peg" on the FX series "Sons of Anarchy," is a below-the-knee amputee.

He said many in the entertainment industry won't consider people with disabilities for roles.

"They're saying, 'You're disabled. Don't apply,' " he said, and that has to change.

The ReelAbilities Cincy Disabilities Film Festival will take place March 9-16. For more information, go to . Proceeds will benefit other local nonprofits that serve people with disabilities.


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