Easterseals Southern California (ESSC) has partnered with Director Jenni Gold and Gold Pictures to raise awareness within the entertainment industry to be more inclusive and create opportunities in front of and behind the camera for people with disabilities. ESSC first aligned with Gold when she served as a judge for the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge.
Gold is one of only two members of the Directors Guild of America who identifies as having a disability and director of the award-winning documentary CinemAbility, which traces the history of disability portrayals from the silent era to today and the impact these portrayals have had on the public. Called “Eye opening” and “An arresting look at disability” by the Los Angeles Times, CinemAbility features interviews with Ben Affleck, Michael Apted, Paris Barkley, Geena Davis, Peter Farrelly, Jamie Foxx, Vince Gilligan, Taylor Hackford, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy, Marlee Matlin, Jane Seymour, Gary Sinise and more.
“Jenni’s passion for storytelling and entertaining an audience is clearly evident in her work and achievements. We welcome the opportunity to work with her to effect change and promote inclusion.”
Gold, who has muscular dystrophy, has used a wheelchair since the age of seven and jokes that since her director’s chair goes 12-miles- an-hour, she is the first to arrive on set, “I’m thrilled to have my film CinemAbility partner with Easterseals, which shares my mission of bringing inclusion to Hollywood and the world. I am excited about these new opportunities and what the future has in store.”
Said Mark Whitley, president and CEO of ESSC “Jenni’s passion for storytelling and entertaining an audience is clearly evident in her work and achievements. We welcome the opportunity to work with her to effect change and promote inclusion.”
The Easterseals Disability Film Challenge addresses underrepresentation by giving filmmakers with and without disabilities the platform to collaborate, tell unique stories that showcase disability in its many forms, and support Easterseals’ goal to change the way disability is viewed. CinemAbility, which has enjoyed a successful film festival run, takes a detailed look at the evolution of disability portrayals in entertainment by going behind the scenes, interviewing celebrities, filmmakers, studio executives, and film historians. By utilizing vivid clips from Hollywood’s most beloved motion pictures and television programs it brings focus to the powerful impact that entertainment and the media can have on society.
During the Challenge registered filmmakers have 55 hours over the designated weekend to write and produce short films of three-to-five minutes. Submitted films are judged in four award categories: Best Film, Best Filmmaker, Best Actor, and Best Awareness Campaign by a noted and diverse group of entertainment industry talent.
Since the Challenge launched in 2013 aspiring filmmakers from around the world have created more than 150 short films that have been viewed online and at festivals. Jamie Brewer won Best Actor in 2017 for Whitney’s Wedding. Jamie is acclaimed for her role on American Horror Story and was the first model with Down Syndrome to walk the runway at New York Fashion Week. Dickie Hearts, Best Filmmaker 2015, went on to win an HBO Project Greenlight digital series competition.
Now in its fifth year, registration is open for the 2018 competition to be held April 13th-15th. For more information or to sign up: DisabilityFilmChallenge.com
Finalists will be announced and screened at the Bentonville Film Festival opening May 1st.
Check out the CinemAbility trailer here: