Reframing Reality

A film festival about people facing challenges.

‘All about friends’ (photo credit: PR)
‘All about friends’
(photo credit: PR)
The fourth Reframing Reality Festival will be held at the Jerusalem Cinematheque from October 25 to 29. This extraordinarily rich and varied festival focuses on those who have physical, emotional, mental and sensory challenges and how these challenges affect their lives but don’t define them. Reframing Reality, which has special low prices (and some free events), features more than 20 movies, including dramas, comedies, documentaries, children’s films and shorts, by and about people with challenges, from both Israel and abroad. There will be international and Israeli guests. A free shuttle bus from the First Station to the Cinematheque will be running before all programs, and ramps for wheelchair access will be in place at the Cinematheque. In addition, many films will have subtitles and headsets for translation and commentary so that those with visual and hearing impairments can enjoy all the films. “This festival takes two years to put together. It’s a very intensive event, and it gives a platform to people who have stories to tell that aren’t being told elsewhere,” says Dr. Emmanuel Schen, the festival founder and director and director of the Si’im Program of Shekel. A co-sponsor of the festival, Shekel is a nonprofit organization that provides an array of community services to people with special needs, such as housing, education, work and arts activities.
Other partners in the festival include the Ministry of Welfare and Social Services, the National Insurance Institute, the Foreign Ministry, the Jerusalem Municipality, the Jerusalem Foundation, the Gesher Foundation, the Shalem Institute, the Israeli Organization for Community Communication and the US-based ReelAbilities film festival.
The festival will open with a screening of Jung-chi Chang’s Touch of the Light, a fact-based feature film about the life of Taiwanese blind piano prodigy Yu-Siang Huang, who plays himself. He will attend the screening and perform before the film. The event will take place in the presence of Welfare Minister Haim Katz, National Insurance Institute CEO Prof. Shlomo Mor- Yosef, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and Yun Sheng Chi of the Taiwan Embassy. Yu-Siang Huang will also perform in a recital later in the festival, completely in the dark, so the audience can better understand his world. Other international guests include Lena Koppel and Peter Kropenin, respectively the director and producer of two Swedish films that will be shown in the festival, The Importance of Tying Your Own Shoes and It’s All About Friends. Importance tells the story of a rebellious young man who finds himself when he gets a job at a community center teaching people with learning disabilities. Friends is about a New York-based filmmaker who gets the opportunity to make a movie in Sweden, only to discover once he gets there that his subjects are disabled, which forces him to confront his own prejudices. Koppel and Kropenin will be present at the screenings. There will be a program of films on mental illness. Dr. Schen and Sylvia Tessler-Lozowick will speak before a screening of Nir Bergman’s film Yona, the story of one of Israel’s most acclaimed poets who struggled with psychosis. His topic is “From Demonic to Ingenious: The Depiction of Madness in Films.” Also screened in this program will be Xavier Dolan’s Mommy, which won nearly 50 awards at international festivals, including the Jury Prize at Cannes. The film is about a widow raising a son prone to violent outbursts. Dr. Max Lachman, a board member of the Israel Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association, will speak before a screening of David Zellner’s Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter, about a low-functioning introverted young Japanese woman (Rinko Kikuchi, who was nominated for an Oscar for Babel) who becomes obsessed with finding the money buried at the end of the Coen brothers’ Fargo , which she believes to be a true story. Dr. Pesach Lichtenberg will speak afterwards on “The Treasures of the Mind.” Comedian Sarah Silverman has her first dramatic role in Adam Salky’s I Smile Back, a movie about a bipolar housewife whose illness leads her to self-destruct and causes enormous pain to her family. Josh Charles (Will on The Good Wife) plays her husband. Bipolarized is a documentary by Rita Kotzia about Ross McKenzie, a man with bipolar disorder who tries to cope without medication. The screening will be followed by a Skype conversation with McKenzie. James Napier Robertson’s The Dark Horse is a fact-based drama about a bipolar chess champion who returns to his community in New Zealand to work with troubled youth. A screening of James L. Brooks’s As Good As It Gets will be dedicated to the memory of Lia van Leer, the founder of the Jerusalem Cinematheque, and Aviva Meirom, her long-time assistant. The film stars Jack Nicholson in an Oscar- winning performance as a writer with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Justin Lerner’s Girlfriend is about a young man with Down Syndrome who pursues his high school sweetheart, a single mother with a history of disastrous relationships. When he inherits money, his life is turned upside down. The film will be followed by a Skype conversation with the director.
Several films in the festival deal with the topic of autism. Charles Jones’s documentary Autistic Like Me tells the story of a weekend retreat for the fathers of autistic children. Sam Fleischner’s Stand Clear of the Closing Doors is a feature film about a boy with autism who loves the New York City subway system and takes off on a subway trip by himself after an especially stressful day. The films on autism will be preceded by a lecture, “Men Cry at Night,” where Dedi Ernest will speak about parenting a special-needs child.
The films in the festival deal with virtually every aspect of living with disability, including family life. The story of a unique couple, in which both partners have special needs, is presented in Seung-Jun Yi’s Planet of Snail. Eric Lartigau’s La Famille Belier, the closing night film, tells the story of a young woman who is the only member of her family who can hear. Pierre Ameris’s Marie’s Story is a period piece about a deaf young woman who finds a new family when she is brought to live in a convent. The Theory of Everything, the Stephen Hawking biopic for which Eddie Redmayne won a Best Actor Oscar, will be shown. A number of events are designed for parents and children to enjoy together. Acting students from Shekel Si’im Players and the Nissan Native Actors’ Studio will perform Day Dream, a light, funny adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Troy Kotsur’s No Ordinary Hero: The Superdeafy Movie is an innovative comedy/drama/adventure movie that combines live action and animation to tell the story of a deaf actor who portrays a superhero on a children’s television show and wants to help a young deaf boy who gets bullied at school.
The Finishers,
by Nils Tavernier, another family film, is about a father who helps his wheelchair-bound son compete in a triathlon and was inspired by a true story. Hila Timor Ashur’s Our Journey to Poland will have its premiere screening at the festival. This documentary deals with a group of Israeli high school students with mental issues who visit the sites of death camps in Poland, knowing that their disabilities as well as their religion would have marked them for death in the Nazi era. The Short Films About Great Challenges section features two short films, Mazal Ben-Yishai’s Mazal Means Luck and Rona Soffer’s A Ginger Sheep. They will be preceded by a conversation with the directors. There will also be a short-film competition by student filmmakers and a competition for television films made by community centers. Creating Together, a documentary workshop for people with special needs, will also be held at the festival. For more details and to order tickets, go to the festival website at films/Program.aspx?id=654