2018 Film Festival

October 19 - 20, 2018. Alamo Drafthouse Village

What a year for Cinema Touching Disability! We always have a great time, but celebrating our 15th anniversary really made 2018 one for the books! 

In profile, a young woman concentrates on sheet music on a stand as she plays the cello.One thing that made our 15th anniversary celebration so amazing was Tilly Jones. Tilly, a teenage composer with multiple disabilities, had submitted TILLY’S SYMPHONY, a short documentary about her music and relationship to her disabilities, to our Short Film Competition. In it, she muses, “in the future, I would still like to be composing, and maybe even composing for other people. And maybe hear my pieces played around the world.” That caught our attention. We reached out to Tilly to ask if she might compose a piece for the Festival. After much transpacific coordination, the world premiere of jazzy Marciac greeted our audience as they entered the theater!

That’s not all. Thanks to a grant from the Texas Council on Developmental Disabilities, we were able to bring Tilly and her mother, Marj, all the way from Brisbane, Australia to Austin to present TILLY’S SYMPHONY and Marciac, and of course, treat us to some live music (left)! Local musicians Eric Clow and David Borden added some vocals and guitar to Tilly’s keyboard and cello before and between films both nights of the Festival.

Close up of handmade little figures arranged on a table. Focus is on a black stick with googly eyes on a tiny horse and puffy pink guy.Following TILLY'S SYMPHONY on Friday night, we screened THE PURR-FECT DREAM, a stop-motion short made by students from the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. TSBVI art teacher Gretchen Bettes and some of her current students joined us to talk about the making of the film and share some of the art pieces (right).

A man with an alarmed expression holds a cell phone to his ear with one hand and a sparking wand up to the camera with the other.As the program got underway, we were proud to screen winning entries from our international Short Film Competition, selected from a record-crushing 501 total submissions. Satirical JEREMY THE DUD (Australia) picked up 1st Place in the Non-documentary division, showing us a world where everyone has a disability, and those that don't are treated with the same prejudice, stigma and condescending attitudes people with disabilities face in our own society. MY COMPLEX RELATIONSHIP WITH MY DISABILITY (UK, left, star and director Espen Johnson), another comedic short, picked up Audience Favorite.

A woman with an adamant expression speaks into a microphone while a man next to her listens somberly.1st Place in the Documentary Division went to DANCING WHEELS (Brazil), a glimpse at Corpo em Movimento (Body in Movement), a dance company formed by dancers with disabilities. We were so happy that director Lucia Barata could join us at the Festival and tell the audience how she discovered Corpo em Movimento and was inspired to make this film (right, with MC and CTD ED Dennis Borel). Audience Favorite went to MEETING MICK (Australia), which traces a friendship between recent quadriplegic Tim and infectiously creative Mick. Director Susie Forster sent a special video message, giving a few words about the film and its subjects.

A woman holding index cards in one hand speaks into the microphone she is holding with the other.Following entries from this year’s Competition, we presented a retrospective shorts program, with selected films from our 15 year history, including favorites from our Short Film Competition. Our audience delighted to revisit action-packed JUST, GO! (2017), intriguing THE QUIET ONES (2016), and wordless, but powerful SILENT (2016). We were thrilled that filmmaker and actor Emily Brook (left) joined the Festival to present her finalist film from 2016, THE SPECIALS.

A comic book spread is projected onto the theater screen. A woman in the foreground speaks into a microphone, a woman seated next to her looks up at the screen, and a man next to then signs ASL.As is now a Film Fest tradition, Pen 2 Paper creative writing contest co-coordinators Laura Perna and Susie Angel presented selected entries from this year's contest. For the first time, we shared finalist entries from the comics/ graphic narrative division, including Nina G. & Mean Dave's Once Upon an Accomodation, Eric Clow and David Borden's Faceplant, and Georgina Chadderton's Oh Brother (right). Since Eric and David were already there to play some tunes, they added a few words about the co-creation of their comic.

A man seated in a wheelchair speaks into a microphone. He has his hand resting on the powerchair of another man, who listens with an uneasy expression.To close our program Saturday night, we looked back at another signature CTD milestone: the 2003 Team Everest Expedition. The documentary short SHATTERING STEREOTYPES ON MT. EVEREST followed the history-making team of people with disabilities in interviews and behind-the-scenes footage. Expedition leader Gary Guller introduced the film with a video greeting, and afterward, we held a Q&A with team members Riley Woods and Gene Rodgers (right) and logistics coordinator Joni Rogers.

View, tag, and share more photos from this year's Festival by William Philpott on our Facebook page!

Cinema Touching Disability Film Festival & Short Film Competition is made possible by generous support from our 2018 Film Fest sponsors. We also extend our thanks to our 2018 Short Film Competition judges and Fest volunteers, Erika Lawn, Ellen Whittier, Jasmyne Moreno, Dhruva Athreya, and especially, Jennifer Bracy.

When we held the first Cinema Touching Disability Film Festival on May 22, 2004, we couldn’t have imagined how it would grow into a staple Austin film event, drawing films and filmmakers from all over the world. We’re proud to be a beacon for positive, complex disability representation in film, and we can’t wait to see what the next 15 years bring!

2017 Festival

Submit to the Film Festival

Click to submit with FilmFreeway

The 2024 Short Film Competition is open.

Extended registration ($60) closes May 3, and late registration ($80) begins.

The final deadline is June 7.

Film Fest Newsletter

Sign up for our e-newsletter to stay up to date with the Cinema Touching Disability Film Festival & Short Film Competition.

Subscribe to CTDFF News

Current issue: Thank you, William Greer!