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Superfest 2017 Ups the Ante on Film Festival Diversity and Accessibility

Get ready for the 31st year of Superfest International Disability Film Festival on November 4 and 5 in San Francisco and Berkeley. We’re thrilled to announce our spectacular and diverse lineup, co-produced with the Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability at San Francisco State University.

“When you’re a showing a film by or about someone with a disability, you can’t ignore the needs of the disabled audience,” says Emily Beitiks, Associate Director of the Longmore Institute, which co-sponsors the festival with LightHouse for the Blind. “The technology exists. It’s something every modern film festival needs to consider.”

As always, Superfest will be furnished with a wide range of accessible accommodations: audio description, open captions, ASL interpretation, audience-integrated wheelchair seating, close-up seating for people with low vision or who are deaf or hard of hearing, a chemical free and scent free area set back from rest of audience, a place to retreat, gender neutral restrooms, easy access to public transportation including BART and MUNI, and ramp access to the stage.

At Superfest 2017, more people with disabilities will be telling their own stories through film than ever before. Our filmmakers are geographically diverse as well; we’ll be screening films shot and produced in Myanmar, Colombia, Germany, Vietnam, Australia, Japan, Canada, Italy and the United States. Furthermore, we will welcome filmmakers from more than half of these films in dialogue with our local community and each other to deepen the global conversation and movement around disability film.

Our best-of-festival feature, Deej, embodies this value as a one-of-a-kind collaboration between a veteran filmmaker and a nonspeaking autistic person. Director and producer Robert Rooy and subject and producer DJ Savarese share editorial control as they attempt to navigate the challenges of representing autism on-screen and the resources for parents with autistic children to help them out.

A local film, On Beat, tells the story of two deaf parents with hearing children who unite over a shared love of music. Get to know the filmmaker here.

And, without further ado, a complete list of our SuperFest 2017 films…

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 4, AFTERNOON

Buy tickets for Saturday’s showing.

CHIEF

Directed by Amir Jaffer

United States, 2016, Documentary Short

This reverent ode to the service dog tells the story of German immigrant Sonja Ohldag, who is diagnosed with a seizure disorder after moving to the U.S. in 1999. Unable to afford a service animal from an organization, Sonja trains her dogs herself and takes a chance on Chief, who is not your average service dog.

MIND/GAME: THE UNQUIET JOURNEY OF CHAMIQUE HOLDSCLAW

Directed by Rick Goldsmith

United States, 2015, Feature Documentary

Basketball superstar Chamique Holdsclaw faced six felony counts, the possibility of prison and public attacks on her character. Her rollercoaster attempts at recovery from near suicide reveal an uphill battle against the stigma of psychiatric disability and show a deep journey that is powerful, revelatory, instructive and real.

WHEN BRENDEN MET HIROE

Directed by Steve Mayer-Miller

Australia/Japan 2016, Documentary Short

A photographer from Australia returns to Japan to reunite with his friend Hiroe, who he met at a blind and deaf/blind workshop the year before. The pair spends an unforgettable day together.

THE BARBER OF AUGUSTA

Directed by Michèle Hozer

Canada, 2016, Documentary Short

Liane Yasumoto’s Jury’s Choice Award

Toronto native Matthew Genser goes to great lengths to find his unexpected superpower: cutting hair. Like all superheroes, he has a dark side; but in his costume, he’s invincible. Put on your cape and get lined up!

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 4, EVENING

TRAVELLER

Directed by Nwaye Zar Che Soe, Mine Aung Lin Tun, Pyae Zaw Phyo

Myanmar/Japan, 2014, Documentary Short

Disability Justice Award

Co-presented with CAAMFest

A young woman born with a disability searches for a career despite rampant discrimination. She travels to Japan where she finds strength in disability activism and community, and returns home with a newfound sense of pride.

ON THE OUTS: REENTRY FOR INMATES WITH DISABILITIES

Directed by Jordan Melograna

United States, 2016, Documentary short

“On the Outs” follows three inmates with disabilities as they prepare for reentry, get discharged and navigate the challenges of returning to their old lives. Produced by the Amplifying Voices of Inmates with Disabilities (AVID) Prison Project, this documentary scrutinizes the prison institution and its treatment of inmates with physical and emotional disabilities.

STAB: LIFE AS A VOODOO DOLL

Directed by Jeanette Castillo

United States, 2017, Animated Short

An animated comic medical memoir dedicated to all those who live with chronic illness or disability. Writer and director Jeanette Castillo pairs her tongue-and-cheek personal account of living with Type 1 diabetes with criticism of the American healthcare system.

SIGN

Directed by Andrew Keenan-Bolger

United States, 2016, Short

Two men meet on a train—and a tender and unspoken love story unfolds. Through vignettes, music and sign language, “Sign” follows the relationship between Ben (hearing) and Aaron (Deaf) as they navigate life’s milestones side by side.

IN CRYSTAL SKIN

Directed by Michaela O’Brien

United States/Colombia, 2016, Documentary Short

Best of Festival, Short

In Bogotá, Colombia, a charismatic 11-year-­old named Maria lives with the limitations imposed by a rare skin disease. Her fierce bond with her mother is tested and strengthened as they struggle to preserve Maria’s swiftly passing childhood.

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 5, AFTERNOON

Buy tickets for Sunday’s showing.

DEEJ

Directed by Rob Rooy

United States, 2017, Documentary Feature

Best of Festival, Feature

After being abandoned by his birth parents, DJ found not only a loving family but a life in words through a text-to-voice synthesizer. Told by DJ himself, “Deej” was filmed over six years in the American Midwest and chronicles his journey to become Oberlin’s first non-speaking, autistic student.

LEFTY & LOOSEY

Directed by Zico Abrar

United States, 2016, Fictional Short

In this techy ode to film noir, two amputee veterans turned private investigators uncover a diabolical plot and must overcome their fears to crack the code and save the world.

RHIZOPHORA

Directed by Julia Metzger-Traber, Davide De Lillis

Germany/Vietnam, 2015, Documentary Short

Forty years after the Vietnam War, the toxic remnants of Agent Orange have not faded. In this dreamlike meditation on the impact of war and the resilience of humanity, “Rhizophora” follows 11 disabled Vietnamese youth on a whimsical, poignant and whirling journey through a day in their lives.

ON BEAT

Directed by Cheng Zhang, Reid Davenport

United States, 2015, Documentary Short

This documentary short follows the lives of a deaf couple with hearing children and the unexpected outlet that brings their family closer together.

WELL DONE

Directed by Riccardo Di Gerlando

Italy, 2016, Short

A sharply-dressed young man with Down syndrome sneaks out of his house to visit an art museum and causes a disruption. Through humor and irreverence, this film reminds us that art can be interpreted by everyone, not just the “experts.”

THE CHILI STORY

Directed by Patty Berne

United States, 2014, Animated Short

P.K. Walker Innovation in Craft Award

A true story about desire and the arousal of taboo on a BART train.

Special thanks to:

Sponsor logos: George Lucas Family Foundation, Zellerbach Family Foundation, Ned Nobari Foundation, Golden Gate Regional FoundationSponsor Logos: Telecare, Barron & Lam LLP, Gatepath, JetBlue, Guide Dogs for the Blind, Contemporary Jewish Museum, Shauna Farabaugh Somatic Sex Education