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Jasmine Is A Star directed by Jo Rochelle
Jasmine Is A Star directed by Jo Rochelle

ReelAbilities Film Festival Toronto (RAFFTO) will screen 22 films about Deaf and disability cultures and by filmmakers and actors with disabilities and/or who are Deaf for the 8th annual edition taking place in person and online May 11-19, 2023.

RAFFTO kicks off May 11 with the coming of age feature film Jasmine Is A Star by director Jo Rochelle, with short film Rite of Identity by director Youmee Lee.

Feature length highlights from RAFFTO include: Advocacy Club, directed by Michael McNeely, about deaf-blind individuals organizing to support each other; Being Michelle, directed by Atin Mehra, following a deaf and disabled woman who survived incarceration in a system that refused to accommodate her needs; Drunk On Too Much Life, directed by Michelle Melles that follows the myriad ways that madness has meaning beyond brain chemistry; OKAY! (The ASD Band Film), a music doc directed by Mark Bone, about talented autistic individuals who shatter stigmas with music; and Unfinished, a hybrid doc by director Shabnam Sukhdev that encapsulates the struggles of a young woman’s mental illness as seen through the lens of her mother.

RAFFTO will also include dynamic shorts programmes: Homegrown Stories, celebrating the achievements of disabled Canadian filmmakers and documentary subjects; Navigating Unpredictability, exploring the varied unexpected realities of life with a disability; and Interdependencies: You, Me, and Us, exploring ways that Deaf and disabled people build connection and embrace the beauty of interdependent lives.

ReelAbilities Toronto revealed three new initiatives to support emerging Deaf and/or disabled Canadian filmmakers and creatives. RAFFTO will present their first-ever Short Film Pitch Competition, where five selected applicants will receive coaching to participate in a live, virtual pitch for the chance of winning $5000 in cash, plus prizes and support from William F. White and Grandé Camera. RAFFTO will also offer the Screenwriting Mentorship Program, and Acting & Performance Mentorship Program, where three selected Deaf and/or disabled participants for each program will receive six hours of mentorship that is tailored to their needs as they pursue careers in the film and TV industry in Canada.

RAFFTO will host Industry panels and In Conversation artist talks featuring Ebony Gooden, Katarina Ziervogel, Michelle Asgarali, Kai Little-White, Skye R. Regan, Sean Towgood, Greg Jeffs, Kara Harun, Kevin Wallis, Angelo Muredda, Anthony Q. Farrell, Ophira Calof, Jesse Griffiths, Alexia Vassos, Lora Campbell, Jasmine Noseworthy Persaud, Kitoko Mai, TJ Cuthand, Garrett Zuercher and more.

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