This photo goes with the film, Sign at All Times and shows the skateboarder Brian Estrada, who is Deaf.
By Sam Jacobs
The Superfest Disability Film Festival is the longest running film festival of its kind anywhere in the world. It started in 1970 in Southern California and has switched organizational home’s since it has been started. For the last eight years an organization called the Longmore Institute on Disability at San Francisco has been running the festival. Emily Beitiks, is the co-director of the Superfest Disability Film Festival says, “It’s really exciting to be able to bring this festival to folks all over now, especially folks where disability film festivals are not happening in the Bay area. It’s a much more sort of active place for disability culture and art.” The film festival is a way to spread awareness of disabled people and their specific challenges. The movies show their abilities, their skills and talents in the film industry.
The content of the films that are presented during the three day showcase are primarily films made by people with disabilities or/and about people with disabilities. The aimed audience is more focused on the people who are disabled but everyone is welcome to join the festival and support these future filmmakers. The films are about stories that go past the sort of basic disabled people, showing disability friendships, to feel the subjects everyday experiences of living with discrimination and revealing the creativity that these people can bring to the table. Because these people have different perspectives unlike others, their experiences can be turned into a beautiful enrichment to film and this is their way to celebrate their journeys.
Not only does this festival show films created by these talented filmmakers but it also shows how this organization, Superfest, created a culture where they thrive to be accessible as possible. It’s about creating a world where everyone should feel like there is a place for them, if the people who have access needs this environment will work out a plan with them. For example, they are able to caption all of the films, use American Sign Language during their live programs, and are also able to have an option for an audio description that allows people who are blind or deaf to experience the films like everyone else. The fact that the internet, the social media online platform, has allowed this program to really branch out in much widers ways than ever before.
Before COVID happened, the Institute had already used online resources for their programs like Zoom for the people who physically aren’t accessible. Because of COVID, they decided to make their film festival via Zoom so they can still celebrate their films. Beitiks also says, “We’ve done about fifteen programs since COVID, most of the film related programs to bring good contents to people with accessible, all kinds of access, and to kind of facilitate disability culture and community right now at this moment.” A lot of film festivals cost money, like buying a ticket to get in. Under the circumstances of COVID, because a lot of people have lost their jobs and don’t have a lot of money, there will be tickets for sale but it’s a slide scale so it starts from zero dollars, so there will be a free complimentary ticket option. Also, there will also be an option for the actual ticket prices and higher levels for people that are willing to pay a little more than their share to help balance out the free tickets that they’re giving away.
The festival takes place between October 16-18, 2020. For more information about the upcoming Superfest Disability Film Festival, please visit http://www.superfestfilm.com/.