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15 Years of Empowerment: Disability Film Festival Marks Milestone Anniversary

Millersville University’s Disability Film Festival is celebrating 15 years of disability empowerment.

Approximately 22 percent of adults in the United States experience some form of disability, encompassing a spectrum from self-care to mobility challenges. The Disability Film Festival at Millersville University seeks to shift societal perceptions and redefine the narrative surrounding disability.  

“A disability film festival plays a crucial role in promoting inclusivity and raising awareness about the diverse experiences of individuals with disabilities,” says Dr. Thomas Neuville, professor and principal investigator for the PA Inclusive Higher Education Consortium at Millersville University. “By showcasing films that highlight the disability community perspectives, challenges and achievements, these festivals contribute to breaking down societal stereotypes and fostering empathy.” 

This year’s festival will feature three films: 

“The Grown Ups” on Feb. 15 at 5:30 p.m. in McComsey Myers Auditorium: In a school for individuals with Down Syndrome, four middle-aged friends yearn for a life of greater autonomy in a society that marginalizes them as disabled. The Grown-Ups is a humorous and at times sad and uncomfortable look at the tragic limbo of conscious adults. Free and open to the public. 

“Fire Through Dry Grass” on March 14 at 5:30 p.m. in McComsey Myers Auditorium: uncovers in real-time the devastation experienced by residents of a New York City nursing home during the coronavirus pandemic. Co-Directors Alexis Neophytides and Andres “Jay” Molina take viewers inside Coler, on Roosevelt Island, where Jay lives with his fellow Reality Poets, a group of mostly gun violence survivors. Free and open to the public. 

“The Ride Ahead” on April 25 at 6:15 p.m. at The Ware Center: Samuel Habib, 21, wants to date, leave home, go to college. But he drives a 350-pound wheelchair, uses a communication device, and can have a seizure at any moment. Determined to find his path forward, he seeks out guidance from America’s most rebellious disability activists. Will they empower him to launch the bold adult life he craves? There will be a panel and post-screening discussion led by the filmmaker and member of the National Council on Disability, Theo Braddy and local leadership. Register by visiting Panel Discussion 

“By screening films in a disability film festival, non-disabled individuals can gain valuable insights into the daily lives, struggles and triumphs of people with disabilities,” says Neuville. “Viewers are made aware of the power of the disability rights movement. These films often convey messages of resilience, perseverance and the diverse abilities that exist within the disability community.” 

For more information, contact Neuville at thomas.neuville@millersville.edu  

For more information about the PIHEC at MU, visit PA Inclusive Higher Education Consortium. 

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