CINCINNATI - There were Hollywood stars on the red carpet at the Duke Energy Convention Center Thursday to kick off one of the largest film festivals in the country.
Some 10,000 people will enjoy more than 40 films screenings, 15 workshops, luncheons and more at the ReelAbilities Film Festival through Sunday. The festival celebrates differences in people and spreads awareness through movies.
One of the stars on hand was RJ Mitte, who played Walter White Jr. in Breaking Bad. The actor with cerebral palsy played a character with cerebral palsy and is a spokesperson for this year's event.
"I was diagnosed at age 3 with cerebral palsy, but I've been working my whole life to work with it and evolve with it," Mitte said.
Other familiar faces included Kurt Yaeger of NCIS, American Horror Story's Jamie Brewer and Boardwalk Empire's Nick Novicki.
"This event's fantastic,” Yaeger said. ”Talk about interesting stories, and the medium of films that haven't told these stories is right here right now."
SEE full details of the festival, the schedule and list of celebrities and VIPs
Mitte and the others were here to use their differences to make a difference.
“Everyone here has this power inside them and we want to fight and we want to grow,” Mitte said. “Deep down we're all really bullheaded and stubborn, and that stubbornness keeps us in this industry, keeping us working and wanting to be advocates (and) inspiring youth to understand that differences are normal.”
HEARMitte discuss the festival on our "Hear Cincinnati" podcast.
The festival is organized by Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled. LADD, a 41-year-old Cincinnati-based nonprofit, helps nearly 500 adults in Hamilton County who have developmental disabilities through housing and employment options, life skills training, and advocacy leadership.
READ about a Cincinnati man who benefits from LADD.
Last year the festival raised more than $50,000 for 17 local nonprofits that help those who experience disabilities. This year it helps 28.
WCPO's Craig McKee, Julie O’Neill and Lucy May will emcee film screening events during the festival. McKee will host a Friday night reception/screening tribute to veterans.