Five Years of Films at Pace University

For the fifth consecutive year, the Pace University Film Festival Marathon celebrating people with disabilities on the silver screen featured inspiring stories, thoughtful discussion, and plenty of laughs and tears. Six short films both narratives and documentaries, were presented, with each followed by a discussion from a distinguished panel of people with disabilities, experts in the field, and family members. The event was organized by Dr. James Lawler, Professor of Disability Studies and Information Technologies at Pace’s Seidenberg School.

The Films

  • Stutter: A father and son dealing with the title speech impediment must prepare for a Career Day presentation; the director of the film, Ivo Huahua, took some questions after the film was shown
  • Anna: A woman with autism has her daily routine interrupted and panics
  • Children of God: A young Iraqi amputee puts his possessions on the line for a high-stakes soccer match
  • Dancing on Wheels: After a ballerina suffers a paralyzing injury while walking on ice, she comes to terms with her situation and continues to teach her passion. “I don’t view my disability as good, bad, or indifferent,” she says. “It just is.
  • Picked: A young girl with autism searches for the perfect pumpkin, defying her teacher in the process
  • 4 Quarters of Silence: In the gridiron hotbed of Texas, a deaf high school football team competes against all comers

Insightful Discussion

The panel discussion opened up with a question about how Hollywood is or is not improving in its portrayals of and the hiring of actors with disabilities. Gary Lind, Executive Director, AHRC New York City, remarked that while the film industry itself has much work to do, social media and the increase in independent film-making technology has made it easier than ever for those with disabilities to create and star in their own creative endeavors. Positive remarks were also made about Julia, the new Sesame Street character who has autism.

Following Stutter, parent and NYU lecturer Maria Hodermarska observed that many famous actors, such as James Earl Jones, stammered in their youth and used acting as a therapeutic tool. Bullying was a common theme in the short film, and third-grader Greta Baier said that the onus is on parents to reinforce that bullying behavior is unacceptable. “Parents should tell their kids that even if someone’s different they should still treat them the way you want to be treated.

Self-advocate Gilda Lindenblatt, who lives in an AHRC NYC residence and attends Walter and Evelyn Redfield Center, said that she was motivated by Dancing on Wheels. “I was looking at [the movie] and the way she moved on that wheelchair, it was really amazing. She wanted to be like all other people and the way she did it, she was talented as a disabled person. That’s how it is-if they can manage to do it and have the talent, then it’s well worth it.

Community Partnership Recognition

Pace University also used the occasion to thank many AHRC NYC employees for a decade of close community partnership. The staff members thanked are listed below by department:

  • Gary Lind, Executive Director
  • Marilyn Jaffe-Ruiz, EdD, RN, Third Vice President, AHRC NYC Board of Directors
  • Adult Day Services: Harriet Golden, Director; Katerina Chatzistyli, Assistant Director; Lorraine Cohen, Assistive Technology Specialist; Pancho Diaz, Community Support Professional, Manhattan Day Hab Without Walls; Sarah Soriano, Facility Director, Manhattan Day Hab Without Walls; David Summers, Facility Director, Manhattan Day Habilitation; Darinka Vlahek, Director of Program Services
  • Carole Gothelf, Director, Individualized Supports
  • Philip Proctor, Director, Individualized Technology Strategies
  • Educational Services: Christina Muccioli, Director; Andrew Winfrey, Principal, AHRC Middle High School; Estefania Flores, Transition Coordinator, AHRC Middle High School
  • Employment and Business Services: Steve Towler, Assistant Exectuve Director; Laura Aneiro-McCaffrey, Assistant Director, EBS – Brooklyn; Yuliya Khripunkova, Program Director, Brooklyn EBS; Martha Perez, Employment Skills Coordinator, Brooklyn EBS


2018-05-07T11:10:29+00:00 April 6th, 2017|General Interest|

About the Author:

Dylan Watton is the Communications Coordinator at AHRC New York City.