Cinema Touching Disability Film Festival

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)

Was 2019 the biggest year of Cinema Touching Disability yet? With sellout crowds, our celebrity guest host, RJ Mitte (below), a focus on adaptive fashion, and a slate of the best international disability short films, it just may have been!

RJ stands in front of a theater screen with the Film Fest logo projected onto it. He holds a mic in one hand and gestures with the other, as if he's making a point.

We returned to the Alamo Drafthouse Village for this year’s Fest October 18th & 19th. In the lobby before the show, attendees enjoyed a preview of Accessible Portraits: Painting People as They See Themselves (below), a new collaboration between Austin artist David Borden and CTD.

On an easel are a series of small paintings of people with various expressions and a lot of primary colors.

Friday night, we screened finalists and non-documentary winners of our international Short Film Competition. This year, we had an unprecedented 3-way tie for 2nd place and 2-way tie for 3rd! 

Garret, in a bright red shirt and tie, appears to be making a serious statement into the microphone he's holding. Beside him, Orion holds a folder with both hands and looks out into the audience with a wistful expression.

We were thrilled to welcome the filmmakers of two 2nd place winners to Austin to accept their awards: Garrett Anderson and Orion Couling of Chicago, star and director of NO EASY TARGET, a STAR WARS fan film (above), and Carl Hansen of Los Angeles, director of I/O, a love story with an adaptive tech twist.

View the full 2019 Short Film Competition results!

Friday nights offerings also included the thought provoking HBO documentary DARK LIGHT: THE ART OF BLIND PHOTOGRAPHERS

Following the program, we headed to the Drafthouse patio, where attendees stuck around well into the evening to meet RJ, get an autograph, and continue discussions about the films (below)!

RJ and Jennifer pose with a group of Longhorn Best Buddies volunteers, everyone is smiling and laughing at various cameras, they look like they're having a ball.

Saturday night, our Short Film Competition screenings resumed, with the winners of the documentary division. It was a big night for international filmmakers: Turkish FOOTSTEP, about amputee bomb-defuser Hosyar Ali, scooped up 1st place. ANDRE THE ANTI-GIANT, a Canadian biopic of “three-foot-something comedian” Andre H. Arruda, won 2nd place and Audience Favorite.

View the full 2019 Short Film Competition results!

After intermission, it was time for our highly anticipated focus on adaptive fashion. Fest guest Stephanie Thomas, Los Angeles-based Disability Fashion Styling Expert and founder of (below), discussed her work as a stylist for actors, models, and other performers with disabilities.

From a low, off center angle, Stephanie speaks into the microphone, with a slide reading

Her call to action: reaching out to clothing companies about making more accessible options is an act of self-advocacy. Tell brands what you wish they made, and keep the pressure on them until they do. Doors may close on you, and that’s ok. But keep knocking!

Stephanie’s comments brought into sharp focus the deep connection between clothing, personal identity, and self-advocacy. We continued to dive into this connection with the world premiere of CTD-produced short SEW ADAPTIVE: A DOCUMENTARY EXPLORING ADAPTIVE FASHION. The short followed five CTD members with disabilities as they worked with local designers to solve their unique fashion challenges. 

shot from the side, Vanessa smiles into the microphone, looking out at the audience, while the others listen, sitting or standing in a line to her right.

After the short, each of the models and the designers took to the stage to debut their collaborative designs and take questions. Above: Designer Vanessa Villalva of Ronkita Design, models Mimi Hau, Tanya Winters, Josselyn Sosa-Williams, Marisa Cogswell, and Carol Gilson, designer Aisen Chacin of UTMB MakerHealth Space.

It was a fascinating discussion, which we were thrilled to continue the following morning at our Adaptive Fashion Panel, with partner Art Spark Texas!

We hope that this year's CTDFF was just the beginning of many conversations on adaptive fashion. We invite you to...

Check out all of our photos from CTDFF 2019 on Facebook!

CTDFF was an absolute success this year, and we had such a fun time with all of you! Thanks to all who attended, and thanks especially to our volunteers, CTDFF 2019 sponsors, and Fest guests! Congratulations again to all of our film festival entrants, finalists, and winners!

CTDFF 2018

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The 2024 Short Film Competition is open.

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

The final deadline is June 7.

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