Easterseals, a leading disability services organization, announced the finalists of the 2019 Easterseals Disability Film Challenge on Saturday April 26, at the Newport Beach Film Festival, followed by a screening of the films and a Q&A with some of the finalists. Now in its sixth year, the Film Challenge empowers filmmakers with or without disabilities to collaborate and tell unique stories while providing opportunities for inclusion and representation for the world’s largest minority group.
Teams participating in the challenge had 55 hours to write, shoot and edit a three-to-five-minute short film based on an assigned genre. The competition took place April 5-7, during which more than 200 people with disabilities participated either in front of or behind the camera. Excitement and participation in the annual challenge is growing as this year’s competition saw a 22 percent increase in submissions from the prior year and entries from three different countries.
“The goal is to expand the conversation surrounding disability inclusion and provide a platform for the many talented members of the disability community to create authentic content,” said Mark Whitley, CEO, Easterseals Southern California. “Through the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge, participants have a chance to showcase their talents, creating a pipeline that will directly lead to increased inclusion.”
The 2019 Easterseals Disability Film Challenge Finalists are:
Best Awareness Campaign
The winners of the annual competition will be announced at a red-carpet ceremony at Sony Pictures Studios on May 9. Based on the category, winners will receive a mentorship opportunity with producer and President of SK Global John Penotti (“Crazy Rich Asians”), CBS Entertainment’s Tiffany Smith Anoa’i, Academy Award-winning writer, director and producer Phil Lord (“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” “The Lego Movie,” “21 Jump Street”), or Pam Dixon, casting director (“Angels in the Outfield,” “City Slickers”). Other prizes include the latest in computer technology from Dell, the opportunity to screen their film at the HollyShorts Film Festival, a $2,000 production grant provided by Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, a Sony a6400L camera kit and more.
Judges for the Film Challenge included: RJ Mitte, actor (“Breaking Bad”); Kat Coiro, writer/director (“Modern Family,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “Shameless,” “The Mick”); Kevin Jordan, award-winning writer/director; Danny Woodburn, veteran actor (“Seinfeld,” “Watchmen” and the “Ninja Turtles”); among others.
“We could not be prouder of the amazing films we received this year. The stories our judges reviewed spoke volumes about inclusion and really showcased the power of collaboration at its finest,” says Nic Novicki, actor and founder, Easterseals Disability Film Challenge. “I personally cannot wait for the world to see the talent that the disability community has to offer in telling valued stories that open doors for us all.”
Sponsors and partners for the 2019 Challenge include Adobe, CBS Entertainment Diversity & Inclusion, Deadline Hollywood, Dell, Film Independent, Heartland Film Festival, HollyShorts Film Festival, Molly & David Pyott Foundation, the Newport Beach Film Festival, SAG-AFTRA, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Pictures, and Variety.
Image credit: Photo by Author