Volunteering at ReelAbilities Film Festival
A blog by Abbie Volkmann
One of my first times as a Disability Awareness Player was in February when we trained a group of filmmakers at Kartemquin Films in Chicago. At the training, our contact at Kartemquin invited me to volunteer to be on the planning committee for the ReelAbilities Film Festival, which takes place every other year. ReelAbilities is different from other film festivals because its primary focus is on people with disabilities. The goal of the festival is to provide awareness of people with disabilities, and invites both participants and festival goers to become more inclusive of people with disabilities and stand up for their rights. Topics discussed in each film include how people with disabilities interact with their families, hobbies they have such as playing basketball and dancing, and overall life as a person with a disability.
My duties as a part of the planning committee included screening several of the films to determine which ones would be included in the festival, finding venues for the films to be shown in, planning the opening and closing celebrations, and recruiting volunteers to help out at the festival. I volunteered on one of the days of the festival, which took place the first week in October. I was responsible for handing out programs and directing people to the theater where the night’s film was shown.
Overall, I enjoyed being a part of the planning committee for the ReelAbilities Film Festival. It was a lot of work, and required frequent commutes to and from the city. But, the final outcome was a success, and I’m really glad I had the opportunity to be a part of it. I believe events such as this are important because people need to become more aware of individuals with disabilities, and need to know that they should be treated as equally as those without disabilities. This is important to me because, as a person with a disability, I dislike it when I, along with others with disabilities, am treated differently because I’m not like everyone else. The festival demonstrated these messages in a positive and active way, and encouraged people to take action and support people with disabilities. I will definitely continue to volunteer with the planning committee, as well as help out with any future opportunities ReelAbilities has to offer. Through ReelAbilities, I was also able to meet filmmakers as well as other people who were interested in disability inclusion. This will hopefully open doors to future job opportunities for me.