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Devin D. Thorpe

Devin Thorpe

Reelabilities Film Festival: New York Celebrates 10th Anniversary With Homegrown Keep The Change At JCC Manhattan

Festival to open March 8 with Tribeca Film Festival winner in advance of its theatrical release March 16. Film was inspired by, produced on location at, and with the cooperation of JCC Manhattan’s Jack and Shirley Silver Center for Special Needs.

Press Release – New York, NY, January 10, 2017 – JCC Manhattan’s ReelAbilities Film Festival: New York, announced that filmmaker Rachel Israel’s award-winning Keep the Change will open its 10th festival at JCC Manhattan on March 8. The 2018 festival marks a milestone for ReelAbilities, which in its ten years has ballooned into an international network of festivals presented in over 15 cities in the U.S., Canada and Latin America.

The 10th Annual ReelAbilities Film Festival: New York will take place at JCC Manhattan and close to 30 other venues across all five boroughs of New York City, as well as in Long Island, Westchester and Rockland counties from March 8-14, marking it the most geographically accessible festival in the country, in addition to being packed with technology making it accessible to those with special needs of all kinds.

KEEP THE CHANGE premiered at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival, winning the festival’s Best U.S. Narrative Feature, Best New Narrative Director awards. The Tribeca jury called the film a, “… heartwarming, hilarious and consistently surprising reinvention of the New York romantic comedy, which opens a door to a world of vibrant characters not commonly seen on film.” It also received Special Mention for the Nora Ephron Prize.

Writer/director Israel based KEEP THE CHANGE on her award-winning short film of the same name, which screened as part of the 2013 ReelAbilities Film Festival. She developed the short with lead actor Brandon Polansky using his experiences within the Adaptations program at the Jack and Shirley Silver Center for Special Needs at JCC Manhattan. Adaptations is a community of adults in their 20s and 30s with developmental and/or learning disabilities and a high level of independence. Polansky and lead actress Samantha Elisofon—also a member of the Adaptations community —reprise their roles in the feature, and Israel recruited much of the cast with non-professional actors including both group members and JCC staff.

“There could not be a more perfect film for opening night of our 10th anniversary,” says Isaac Zablocki, Director and Co-founder of the festival. “Not only is this film about our community, it is also made by and with our community — giving it absolute authenticity as it tells an engaging and universal story.”

ReelAbilities Film Festival seeks to promote awareness of the stories and artistic expressions of people with different abilities by celebrating the diversity of the shared human experience through engaging films and events. The festival also encourages inclusion and authentic portrayals in cinema of people with disabilities, who are the most underrepresented minority in American media. Following the flagship New York festival, selections from this year’s program travel to ReelAbilities’s growing network of festivals around North America occurring throughout the year.

The festival will announce the remaining program for the 10th Annual ReelAbilities Film Festival: New York at JCC Manhattan in the next few weeks, and tickets will go on sale Monday, Feb. 11 at or at 646.505.5708.

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