CTDFF Adaptive Fashion Challenge

Texas Central America's Bullet Train presents the 16th Annual Cinema Touching Disability Film Festival & Short Film Competition, October 18 - 19, 2019

October 18 - 19, 2019
Alamo Drafthouse Village

2700 West Anderson Lane, Austin TX, 78757 (map)

Adaptive fashion is having a moment, as retail stores across the country are venturing into clothing designed specifically for people with disabilities. It’s great that accessible clothing is becoming more and more widely available, and we’re thrilled to welcome some essential players in the adaptive fashion movement, Runway of Dreams and Disability Fashion Stylist Stephanie Thomas (more on them)!

To complement our partnership with Runway of Dreams for this year’s Festival, CTDFF is proud to announce our own Adaptive Fashion Challenge! We reached out to our members to ask, what are some challenges you have with clothing and dressing? It became clear that there were many overlapping problems: getting dressed and undressed; pants not fitting over braces and assistive devices; never being able to find shoes that look good AND function! 

For our Challenge, we selected 5 models with a disability and a clothing-related challenge they have been unable to solve on their own:

In slivers, close up candid shots of five women's faces, with various expressions.

2 design teams—Austin-based Ronkita Design and UTMB MakerHealth Space Engineer, Aisen Chacin—are working with our models figure it out!

Join us Saturday night as we debut each of the designs and hold a Q&A with the models and designers! We'll also screen the world premiere of SEW ADAPTIVE: A DOCUMENTARY EXPLORING ADAPTIVE FASHION. A local volunteer film crew (led by filmmakers with disabilities!) follows each of the models in the Challenge, to tell the whole story behind each design.

Sunday afternoon, join Stephanie Thomas, designers Vanessa Villalva and Dr. Aisen Chacin, and model Mimi Hau for a more in-depth panel discussion on adaptive fashion! Get all the details and RSVP for the panel!

Meet the models

A woman poses with a hand on her hip in a yard with a driveway.Marisa Cogswell is 26 years old and has a 2-year-old daughter, Francesca (Frankie for short). She's been married to her husband for 5 years (they were actually high school sweethearts!). Marisa was diagnosed with Synovial Sarcoma about 6 weeks after she gave birth to her daughter. She went through 6 rounds of intense chemotherapy, along with a below the knee amputation. She is currently 18 months cancer-free and living life to the fullest. Marisa's favorite thing to do is run, and losing a leg was not going to stop her from running. She received her running blade a couple of months ago, and like Forrest Gump says, “From that day on, if I was going somewhere…I was running.” The thing Marisa wants people to know is, wheelchairs and prosthetics aren’t a symbol of disability; they are a symbol of freedom. Learn more about Marisa's Sarcoma Journey on Facebook and follow her on Instagram @mismanaged_marisa.


Carol Gilson


A woman in a white lab coat looks up and smiles at the camera from a small table with optometry equipment.

Mimi Hau considers herself to be an average person that has a passion to succeed… She just happens to have a disability. As an infant, Mimi was infected with the polio virus which caused severe and permanent paralysis of her legs and spinal scoliosis. Ever since she can remember, she needed to use long leg braces and crutches to do any type of physical activity. Of course, growing up with a disability is challenging; for Mimi, “normal” physical activities take a lot of forethought and energy. She’s learned to adapt and improvised ways to maneuver obstacles in her way—granted she’s still learning everyday and for the rest of her life. Mimi owes a lot of her accomplishments to her family, friends and even strangers; she is pleasantly surprised how kind-hearted and generous people can be, even to someone they don’t know! Mimi has been blessed with parents that have given her all the advantages in life and have instilled the importance of a great education. After getting a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology, she pursued a Doctor of Optometry degree and has been practicing Optometry for over 20 years. In keeping with her entrepreneurial spirit, 2 years ago, she opened her own virtual skincare franchise. Mimi is determined to live the best possible life, to the best of her abilities. She chooses to be positive in light of all adversities and to make the most of life as long as she can. In honor of all those that have supported her, Mimi has and continues to pursue philanthropic endeavors.


A woman in a bright red dress with a flower pattern smiles directly at the camera, with bright green trees in the background.Josselyn Sosa went completely blind at the age of 12 due to retinal detachment caused by glaucoma. Her elementary school years were spent trying to perfect her English, learn Braille, and adapt to being visually impaired. Josselyn has always been artsy and spent her middle school and high school years in fine arts schools, singing in the best choirs of the district. The summer before college, she traveled to New Jersey and was paired with her Seeing Eye dog, Nasha, who has been her partner in crime for almost 9 years. Nasha was Josselyn's favorite college roommate at Stephen F. Austin State University, where she studied hospitality administration, with a concentration in travel and tourism. Josselyn married her college sweetheart and has dedicated herself to raising their daughter and, as of late, working for a women’s clothing start up. However, her future aspirations include going back to school for a business management degree so she can start her own travel agency, which will focus on structuring travel packages specifically designed to accommodate people with disabilities when traveling internationally.


A performance photo, a woman with two arm braces stands in the middle of a murky wooded area, covered in mud and gazing expectantly up toward the sky.Tanya Winters is a passionate 43 year old woman living with Cerebral Palsy. She has a firecracker personality and a big heart. After earning a degree in Social Work, Tanya moved from Chicago to Austin, where she discovered her inner disability advocate. Since then, she has built a solid career in disability advocacy, within which she encourages other people with disabilities to get involved in their community and speak out for what they believe in. Tanya enjoys pushing the boundaries of art and disability through her work with Art Spark Texas, a statewide inclusive arts organization. She quickly moved from a scared young woman who read poetry with her back to the audience to a striking dancer who loves to perform. Tanya became a certified DanceAbility instructor in 2011 and spends her free time teaching, choreographing, and performing.


Meet the designers

With a pond, trees, and a bench in the background, a woman in a wide brim hat smiles coyly off camera.Ronkita Design is led by Vanessa, a professional seamstress and designer with 20+ years of experience in marketing, animal welfare, teaching, and creative roles. She started sewing as a way to express her personal style, make things that function the way she wants, and have a deeper connection to the items she uses and wears. Vanessa and her husband, Michael, founded Ronkita Design to provide a local resource for the development of custom-made pieces, opportunities for kids and adults to learn about sewing, and to collaborate with the broader maker and design community. When not working, you can often find Vanessa outside hiking, camping, or tending their garden, with their dogs almost always taking part too. Check out Vanessa and Michael's work, classes, and more at www.ronkita.biz or on Facebook @RonkitaDesign and Instagram @ronkitadesign.


A woman smiles and looks off camera, with a wall full of containers and supplies behind her.Born in Boston, MA, Dr. Aisen Caro Chacin’s research lies within the intersecting fields of art, science, and technology. Her work focuses on Human-Computer Interaction, designing new perceptual interfaces, and discovering the limits of digital media. She holds a BFA in sculpture from the University of Houston (UH), an MFA in Design and Technology from Parsons School of Design in New York City, where she also taught Physical and Creative Computing. She created a framework Assistive Device Art, while attaining her PhD in Human Informatics from the University of Tsukuba, Japan. Currently, Aisen is a medical device designer at the University of Texas Medical Branch, an Adjunct Professor of New Media Art at UH, and the chair of LASER Houston, a series of art and science talks sponsored by Leonardo, IAST, and Transart Foundation for Art and Anthropology. Her work has been presented and exhibited at Ars Electronica, Cite du Design, TEI, NIME, NYC Museum of Art and Design, The New York Hall of Science, and Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, among others. She has been featured as an inventor in Future Tech by Discovery Channel, Creative Applications, FastCo, Time Techland, Engadget, and the New York Times, and was awarded and published by PopSci. Learn more about Aisen's work at aisencaro.com and follow her on Twitter @aisencc and YouTube @aisencc.


Meet the film crew

A young woman in black glasses smiles broadly at the camera.Jennifer Bracy (Director) moved to Austin from her hometown of Corpus Christi in 2017 to accept an internship with the Austin Film Society. Shortly after beginning her role there, Jennifer found CTD, volunteering part-time with Cinema Touching Disability and incorporating her knowledge of the industry. In 2019, Jennifer joined the CTD team as a Development Specialist, the first such position on CTD's staff. In her development role, she does research, writes grants, and promotes CTD through events, while continuing to assist with CTDFF As a people-person, Jennifer says the best part about her job is getting to know others, learning their stories, and helping them however she can. She greatly enjoys working to promote diversity and inclusion through the cinematic arts. Jennifer is also an independent film producer and serves as a screener for Transform Film Festival and the Austin Film Festival. As a Texas native, she finds it extremely important to continue the film efforts of the state through festival support and local Austin film initiatives. Currently, she is working on independent short LAS VIRGENES with Pomegranate Studios. Learn more about Jennifer's work as Producer & Production Manager at Pomegranate Productions and Producer & Production Manager at Produce Microcinema. Follow her on Instagram @jenja_b.


In a shady wooded area, a man with sunglasses sitting in a power chair smiles at the camera.Originally from Dallas, Armando Martinez (Director of Photography) was raised as an Austinite for most of his life. Born with the diagnosis Spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia congenital, his growth was stunted from a young age, and he required walkers, braces, and a wheelchair to maneuver long distances. Wanting to stand out in a way that didn’t always focus on his disability, he ventured to do many things, primarily focusing on performance art. Utilizing these skills, he found he had a niche of engaging an audience through the art of magic/illusion. During his college years, Armando obtained video recording equipment in hopes to create a Youtube channel focusing on his impact through magic. Through interning at the Austin School of Film, executive director Anne Kelley saw he had aptitude for writing, and further sought out his skills for a couple of grant writing projects. During this time, Armando obtained a Bachelor’s of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Family and Child Development. As the years of shooting and college went by, he mastered the art of filmmaking without official training or courses. He currently lives in Austin and booking more projects with various non- profits and local companies. Follow Armando on Facebook @Armando.M.Martinez and Instagram @m4productions.


Against an earthy yellow background, a woman smiles off the camera.


Emily Andujar (Production Assistant) is a native Texan with a background in production design and graphic design. This is her second year working with Cinema Touching Disability. In 2018, she created the 15th anniversary edition of the CTDFF logo.



A smiling woman stands at a three-quarter angle to the camera, in front of a wall with multi-colored wooden shingles.


Tori Galatro (Production Assistant) is a technical writer and film nerd. She previously volunteered for the Austin Film Festival and interned at the Austin Film Society. This is her second year volunteering for the Cinema Touching Disability Film Festival. She loves attending film events around Austin and supporting her friends on their projects.


Close up of a man with glasses looking just off screen.


Joel Watts (Camera Op) is a fixture in the Austin film scene, serving drinks at two of Austin premier independent cinemas. A writer, director and editor in his own right, Joel has made message driven short films for the Austin Metro Drug-free Coalition Media Project, as well as his own comedic short film NEGOTIATIONS. Joel also edits special event trailers for both Austin Film Society Cinema and Violet Crown Cinema. Watch NEGOTIATIONS on YouTube.

Three-quarter view of a woman looking up toward the corner of the frame.


Deborah Valcin (Camera Op) is a Haitian filmmaker based in Austin, Texas. Her passion for her home country of Haiti drives her to bring to light unique stories centered around the Haitian narrative and the Haitian Diaspora. Through film and photography, she hopes to achieve a presentation of Haiti and its people as a multi-dimensional and complex culture that can be found around the world. She also hopes to bring more stories centering disabilities to the forefront; especially stories from her home country.


Against a bright red background, a woman wearing a bright red sweater looks up to smile at the camera.Diana Duran (Camera Op) was born in Merida-Venezuela, studied Journalism at the Cecilio Acosta Catholic University, and obtained her bachelor's degree in 2015. In October 2015, she moved to the US to improve her professional photography and audiovisual media, and then returned to Venezuela and create her own production company, Akasha Productions. Due to the political situation in her country, she returned to the United States to achieve hers goals in international production. Diana gained experience in her native Venezuela in the production of advertising and commercial spots and also had the opportunity to carry out a TV program, "Legacy." She is working on her first movie where she will show the situation facing a Venezuelan immigrant.


Taylor Romeguera (Camera Op) is a graduate of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and professor of video production at Lone Star College in Houston,Texas.

Against an out of focus background of light green trees, a woman with a hand under her chin smiles at the camera.



Michelle Redden (Camera Op) is an artist from Austin, Texas. She is most excited by the collaborative and diverse storytelling process that filmmaking offers. She is also a screener for Cinema Touching Disability Film Festival.


In a mirrored room with exercise bikes, a man with headphones around his neck looks up as though surprised by the camera.



Steven Montmaneix (Audio/ Boom Op) received his Film & Electronic Arts degree at Long Beach State University where he practiced working in audio. He has served as the podcast editor of Debt to Cinema and as the Audio Engineer at OC Digital studio. 


Against an unlit background, a woman hold her chin in her hand and raises an eyebrow pointedly at the camera.


Dénika Soria Jiménez (Audio/ Boom Op) graduated from Texas A&M in May 2017 with a University Studies Business degree with minors in Music and Film Studies. She moved to Austin in August of 2017 hoping to find a new filmmaking community and eventually ended up finding an opportunity with the Austin Film Society through their youth education Film Club program. She has been in the program since then and more recently became an intern for AFS. She is currently trying to edit some projects and get more production experience, wherever it may be, to help her grow as a filmmaker.

Submit to the Film Festival

The 2024 Short Film Competition closed on June 7.
Semi-finalists to be announced in June.

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