2020 Film Festival

August 15 - September 15
October 16 - 18


Like so much in 2020, the 17th annual Cinema Touching Disability Film Festival was not quite the same as in previous years—but it still happened! We are proud of the program we delivered, and grateful for the support of our sponsors and audience.

We were unsure whether we’d be able to produce an in-person Festival this year, so over the summer, we hatched a plan: instead of backing off from programming, we’d double down and present not one, but two cinematic events celebrating disability, all virtual, if necessary.

The first, CTDFF: Online!, comprised a showcase of ten selections from our short film competition that did not place among the finalists, but were outstanding nonetheless (below, UNSPOKEN SPOKEN). From August 15 – September 15, over 200 viewers from Texas and around the world registered to enjoy our documentaries and narrative shorts.

In a stark white room, a man leans all of his weight on his hands on a brown table. His face is calm, but his hair and a shirt tied around his waist are in the air, as though he's moving quickly.

Taking advantage of our online environment, we also held four popular live Filmmaker Q&As with guests from as far away as Sydney, Berlin, and both US coasts.

We had a spirited conversation with Ashley Eakin (below, director of SINGLE) and Sean Leviashvili (writer, producer, and star of LIMP) about the complexities of dating as people with disabilities—and how their own experiences shaped their films.

Screen shot of YouTube video, Ashley wearing earbuds, looking into the camera with raised eyebrows and a smile.

It was a treat to watch Gaelynn Lea (GAELYNN LEA: THE SONGS WE SING) and 2018 Fest guest Tilly Jones (tuning in from Australia) talk shop about making music as artists with disabilities.

And we delighted when Aprille Asfoura (director of SOMETHING ABOUT SAM, below) recounted how her cameraman wound up filming while skiing backward, on one leg to capture a shot of Paralympian Sam Tait on the slopes! Check out the CTDFF: Online! lineup, plus recordings of the filmmaker Q&As!

Film poster: Close up profile of a bearded man gazing into the distance fades into action shot of an adaptive skier. Text over image reads: Woodside films presents: Something About Sam directed by Aprille Asfoura Produced by Lucinda Reynolds Featuring Sam Tait.

We drew upon our CTDFF: Online! experience for our next event: the 17th annual Cinema Touching Disability Film Festival which went ahead as scheduled Oct. 16-18. Each night, we presented finalists from our short film competition (the best of 158 entries from 28 countries), featured selections, and filmmaker Q&As.

Opening night, we screened winners from the documentary division of our competition. Directors Denise Schamens (CHOOSING TO BE A GOOD FRIEND) and Marrock Sedgwick (PEOPLE LIKE ME) made impassioned calls for greater autism acceptance, both in their films and in our conversation.

A man in a blue Civil War-era Union uniform, arms outstretched, rushes through a doorway toward the camera, which is at a high angle. He is missing one arm below the elbow.

Feature film THE INVALID CORPS screened with narrative short UNION (above) on Saturday night, both examining the roles of people with disabilities in the Civil War—and the all too familiar negative stereotypes and attitudes that hounded them. Directors Julia Myers and Day Al-Mohamed joined us to talk about this all but hidden story of American history.

We closed with the non-documentary winners of the short film competition, and an enthusiastic conversation about filmmaking and casting actors with disabilities with all three directors, Jim McMorrow (UPSIDE), Cedric Hill (NOISY, below), and Craig Mooneyham (SALTING THE FLY). Read the full results of this year's short film competition!

Poster for NOISY: a woman and man sit next to each other on a bus, seemingly in intense conversation, both looking down. Film info: TO AND FRO PRODUCTIONS, LLC PRESENTS Noisy MAX LAMADRID AND GABI FAYE LEVIN cinematographer CANIGLIA ACIHIMAGO edited by DANIEL PHILIPS written directed by CEDRIC HILL


While we missed the camaraderie and energy (and milkshakes) that we’ve enjoyed year after year at the Alamo Drafthouse, the 2020 Festival delivered a lot of positives:

One thing that 2020 didn’t change: our commitment to breaking down barriers for people with disabilities, on screen and off. Thank you once again to our sponsors, audience, and short film competition judges; we’ll see you next year!