Cinema Touching Disability Film Festival

the 19th Annual Cinema Touching Disability Film Festival OCT 14-15, 2022. Lost Reel Short Film Showcase AUG 16-SEPT 15, 2022

Cinema Touching Disability Film Festival

What a delight to see so many friends, old and new, at this year’s Cinema Touching Disability Film Festival! Our long-time partners, the Alamo Drafthouse, welcomed us back to the theater for our first in-person Festival since 2019.

We opened each night with winners of our international short film competition, the best of 52 entries from 19 different counties. First place in our documentary division went to “Whales Eyes,” a playful but thoughtful video essay from emerging US filmmaker James Robinson, who shows what it looks and feels like to live with several disabling eye conditions.

Dramatically lit and in front of a dark curtain stands a man flanked by two women, arm in arm, singing or laughing deviously. One leans to side on her cane and all hold champagne glasses.Following the documentary shorts on Friday, we screened two exciting disability documentaries from recent years. In IMPERFECT (2021), Phamaly, a Denver theatre company for disabled actors, mounts a production of the legendary musical, Chicago (right). Following the production from casting through opening night, viewers meet actors with disabilities ranging from spinal cord injury to Parkinson’s Disease, cerebral palsy to autism, who tailor their performances to their individual strengths and uniqueness as disabled artists.

Across a paved area, a group of people in matching line green shirts are in various positions: sitting or lying on the ground, sitting in a wheelchair, standing. Arms and legs are held out at various angles.To get ready for IMPERFECT, our good friends from the Body Shift Collective performed a pop-up mixed ability dance improvisation on the Drafthouse patio (right, photo by Mike McDiarmid). Without prompting, a saxophonist joined the performance, adding a soulful soundtrack to a compelling and beautiful series of movements. It was Fest magic!

Then after the film, Austin’s own inclusive theater company, TILT Performance Group, gave a sneak preview of their upcoming production, Strange Faces. The world premiere of this Broadway musical about three people with autism and their families opens later this month, and we can’t wait to see the whole show (opening October 28, get your tickets)!

A man in a black t-shirt and fedora glides around a paved area on a skateboard, with a crutch under each armsThe next night, in the non-documentary division of this year’s competition, “Say Again?” Took first place. In this micro-short comedy, gestures during a COVID-19 masked conversation get a bit out of hand. See the full results of this year’s competition!

Our Saturday night feature was CRUTCH (2020), the gravity defying life of Bill Shannon, an internationally renowned artist, break dancer and skate punk—on crutches. Two decades of exclusive access, plus a lifetime of archival footage, depict Bill from his early years to his rise as an award-winning dancer and cutting-edge performance artist whose work finds outlet at prestigious venues worldwide.

Our audience was thrilled (we were too!) to have Bill in attendance to demonstrate some moves before the show (right, photo by Mike McDiarmid) and answer audience questions following his film).

Thank you once again to our sponsors, volunteers, audience, and short film competition judges; we’ll see you next year!

More about this year's Cinema Touching Disability guest artists

Bill Shannon (he, him) is an interdisciplinary artist and maker who explores body-centric work through video installation, sculpture, linguistics, sociology, choreography, dance and politics. Bill’s contributions to dance include a very specific movement vocabulary evolved through his creative use of crutches as a child after the discovery of a physical disability that effected his ability to bear weight in his hips. Bill’s subsequent immersion in the emergent youth cultures of hip-hop and skateboarding further contributed to his autodidactic form on crutches.

Body Shift Collective is a community dance performance group that is part of Art Spark Texas’ dance program. It is dedicated to diversity and accessibility and to create daring dance performances. This dance group cultivates choreography through respecting individuality, exploring togetherness, and is advocating for social change through free, public performances with performers of different abilities.

TILT Performance Group envisions a Central Texas where people with disabilities flourish as artists through our mission to shatter disability stereotypes through inclusive theatre. To achieve this mission, we are guided by our values of inclusive theatre, artistic originality, meaningful employment, impactful education, strategic collaborations and fun!

The Lost Reel films in 2022


At dusk, a man in a powerchair speeds past a chainlink fence.

Act of God

Dir. Spencer Cook, Parker Smith
A disabled man’s commute is interrupted by a $100 bill lying on the sidewalk, just out of reach. It flutters away as soon as he moves towards it, leading him on a chase that forces him to reconsider his toxic ideal of self-sufficiency. Trailer

Beautiful Bear

Dir. Stuart Quinn
Peter is on autism spectrum and lives with a soft toy bear companion called Teddy, who are inseparable. However, one night he must summon the courage to face a situation he has never faced before and for the first time...without Teddy.

Film poster for the Beautiful Colors of Jeremy Sicile-Kira: closeup of a frowning man with a moustache and bread in profile.Light green blurs dot the foreground. Superimposed over the image are award laurels in black, the title of the film in pink and purple bold text, and the words A Film By Aaron Lemle in purple italics.


Dir. Aaron Lemle. United States
Jeremy Sicile-Kira uses painting to transcend his disability and communicate his dreams to others.

Being Haddie

Dir. Jason Carter
Meet Haddie, a Liberian American girl living in Bahrain and her attitude towards her disability, Cerebral Palsy. She wants to reach out to the families of people with disabilities and let them know that they are not alone.

Dead End Drive

Dir. Alexander Yellen
During the zombie apocalypse, one survivor finds a dead end that will hopefully lead him to salvation.

Film poster for Feeling Through: at night, two men in winter clothes sit side by side in front of a grattifi-covered gate. One clasps his hands and looks anxiously to the side. The other holds a notebook calmly in both hands. Below the image, pale yellow text reads Academy award nomination for best live action short film Feeling Through, a film by Doug Roland.


Dir. Doug Roland. United States
FEELING THROUGH, the first film to star a DeafBlind actor, is a coming of age story that follows Tereek, a teen wandering the streets of New York, desperate for a place to crash when he encounters Artie, a DeafBlind man in need of help getting home. From an awkward meeting between strangers emerges an intimate bond, and a journey that forever changes Tereek. Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

If You Could Touch Me Now

Dir. Anne Kjær
If You Could Touch Me Now is a student project by Anne Kjær, an autistic student at The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow, in which she explores film as social action and focuses on the intersection between disability and sensuality. Featuring Robert Softley Gale, artistic director of the disability-led Birds of Paradise Theatre Company in Glasgow, the film is a cinematic poem about touch and pleasure from the perspective of disabled people.

Matin Ecchymose

Dir. Émilie Peltier
Deaf people from Quebec City meet Queer artist Mo Bolduc and, using the Quebec sign language, interpret some poems written at the Maison de la littérature in March 2020. The film is the result of this encounter, between read texts and their appropriation by Karl Normand, Maritza Côté, Josée Villeneuve and Élisabeth Rhéaume, as powerful and poetic echoes.

Film poster for Vernos Florecer: a painting of fifteen women, holding signs, making signs in their hands, or raising their arms, most smiling. Above them, blooms sprout from the words Vernos Florecer.


Dir. Claudia Castellàn, Huayra Bello. Guatemala
In January 2020, the Women with the Ability to Dream in Color (Mujeres con Capacidad de Soñar a Colores) collective and the METOCA organization conducted the first Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory exclusively for women with disabilities. In Sololà, Guatemala, using their creativity, complicity, pleasure, and collective strength, this group starts to break their silence and change a history of exclusion and violence legitimated by the state, the system and society at large. Trailer

What If?

Dir. Teresa Garratty
After a bad break-up, Jess focuses on rebuilding her life and her self esteem. Dating someone new might help, but what if it all goes wrong? Only one way to find out.

Within the Silence

Dir. Jade Tailor
A young girl, Iris, escapes a tumultuous reality and her abusive father by fleeing deep into her imagination. As she immerses herself in her storybook, she finds that the reality she had once known would quickly fade away. It is there, in the depths of her mind, that she finds hope, a touch of magic, and a place few dare to dream. Instagram


The 2022 film lineup:

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