2021 Legislative & Annual Report: Arts

3 minute read

Cinema Touching Disability

We count this year’s Cinema Touching Disability Film Festival and Lost Reel Short Film Showcase among the bright spots of 2021. Our Fest season began in August, with the launch of our Lost Reel Short Film Showcase, a 30-day online celebration of disability short films from all over the world. To build our Lost Reel program, we select finalists from our short film competition that weren’t winners, but were outstanding nonetheless.

Screenshot of Jenni-Juulia on a Zoom call. She wears a multi-colored top, which stands out against the darkness of her room, as do bright, multi-colored sculptures in the background. She appears to mid-sentence, smiling broadly.Both documentary and narrative shorts made up this year’s showcase, including: a Finnish artist's statement about "disrupting purity" (Alternative Way of Being Human), a Deaf skateboarder's discovery of pride in his own identity (Sign at All Times: A Film about Brian Estrada), and a story of a young man with Down Syndrome claiming his independence (Upside). Filmmaker Q&As with 4 Lost Reel directors bookended this year’s showcase (left, director of Alternative Way of Being Human, Jenni-Juulia Wallinheimo-Heimonen).

The following month, we held our 18th annual Cinema Touching Disability Film Festival, October 15 & 16. This year’s event was also completely virtual, streaming to viewers all over Texas and as far away as Singapore!

We opened each night with winners of our international short film competition, the best of 113 entries from 25 different counties. This year’s features were:

We featured panel discussions following each film with local artists with autism and mainstays in the Austin disability advocacy community. And, we were thrilled that Ady joined the Fest by video with closing comments to his film (right). Read our full Film Fest wrap up.

Lion & Pirate open mic

While our Pen 2 Paper creative writing contest remained on hiatus this year, we were pleased to keep our literary efforts going with the Lion & Pirate inclusive open mic series, co-hosted by Art Spark Texas and Malvern Books. The first weekend of each month this year, we gathered virtually to hear poems, songs, stories, and more from artists with and without disabilities in Austin, around the state, and across the country. A featured artist (or two!) opened each open mic, including many of our regular performers and Pen 2 Paper 2020 winners, as well as guests from disabled and queer music, comedy, and poetry scenes!

CTD and Art Spark Texas teamed up for an additional event to close out 2021: the virtual launch of Crip Lyrics: The Unapologetic Poetry of Disability, the debut collection of Denton-based disability activist, speaker, organizer, writer, and now, poet, Val Vera. In addition to Q&As with Val and Crip Lyrics' illustrator, Melissa Marie Eckardt, attendees enjoyed guest performances by celebrated artist-activists, Maria Palacios and Leroy Moore.

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