Dream in Color

RAFF ’17 DAY 3: Friday Oct. 6th – Chicago Cultural Center: “Do You Dream In Color?”

Dream in Color


Friday, October 6th

6:30-9:00 PM

Chicago Cultural Center  (78 E Washington St)

The poignant coming-of-age story of four teens who navigate the growing pains of high school, but, unlike most teens, face another challenge—they are blind. Through their personal stories, we learn of the experience of being blind and how these fearless teenagers navigate through it.

Short: Beyond Blind (3 min.)- Chicago dramatist Todd Bauer, who is blind, talks about how he writes his plays. (3m)

Panel discussion — 8:00pm

Tickets Available Here!

Tommy Carroll

Tommy Carroll is a Chicago-based drummer, composer, and producer. Hisrecently-released album “Not Amazing” confronts social issues he experiences as a blind person. Tommy plays drums for a number of local rappers and songwriters in addition to being active in the local jazz scene. As a solo artist, Tommy has also released experimental electronic music with his Elementary Foreign Languages series. He isan avid writer and skateboarder.

Todd Bauer

Todd Bauer is a blind playwright, whose work has been performed in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and at the Kennedy Center. Recent productions include: Downsizing Camus at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York, July 2015 and The Bird Feeder Doesn’t Know, Raven Theatre, Chicago, April, 2015. He was a finalist for the 2016/17 Goodman Theatre Playwrights Unit, was awarded an NEA Grant, received a fellowship from the Ragdale foundation, and was nominated for a 3Arts Artist Award. Todd has taught British and American drama at the Newberry Library in Chicago for over ten years, and is an ensemble member of Apothetae Company in New York.


Doug Anzlovar

Doug Anzlovar is the Chief Learning Officer and Vice President at the Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired where he serves as a member of the administrative team, supervises a 30-member faculty as well as the Student Services department, is involved in curriculum decisions and policy development and oversees all educational programs. Prior to joining Hadley, Doug worked as a teacher of the visually impaired in the Chicago Public Schools for nearly ten years. He is a certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapist and Teacher of the Visually Impaired, serves on the Board of Directors for the Association of Vision Rehabilitation Therapists (AVRT) and is currently the President of the Illinois Chapter of the Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (IAER).

Denise Avant

Denise R. Avant, Esq. Born in Chicago, Illinois, Denise was admitted to the Illinois bar in 1984. She has held her current position with the Office of the Cook County Public Defender for over 25 years. In 2010, Denise argued a case before the Illinois Supreme Court. She is active in the American Bar Association, being recently appointed to the ABA Commission on Disability Rights. She has, also, been an active member of the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois (NFBI) since 2005. In October 2012, Denis was elected as the first Vice President of the Illinois affiliate. Since 2010, she has served as the first vice president of the Chicago chapter of the NFBI. As an NFBI member, Denise has served on the governor’s task force for the Illinois School for the Visually Impaired and the Illinois School for the Deaf. Denise is a mentor to blind teenagers for the NFBI’s Freedom Link program. She is one of the founding members and treasurer of a private group known as the Visionaries. Her group raises funds for donation to blind people and/or organizations. Denise’s hobbies include reading, cross country skiing and running. She is an active member of Christian Tabernacle church.

Chicago Resources for the blind:

Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired: Home

Freedom Link | National Federation of the Blind of Illinois

Resources for the Visually Impaired – Friedman Place

Chicago Lighthouse Resource Guide – The Chicago Lighthouse

Blind Service Association, Inc. – welcome

Guild For The Blind – Guild for the Blind


ReelAbilities Co-Director, Reveca Torres On What It Means To Be An Activist


RAFF Co-Director Reveca Torres

Lights, Camera, Take Action!

A few weeks ago I was invited to participate in a panel conversation with other women from Chicago doing great work in our communities. At one point the moderator asked each of us, “Do you consider yourself an activist?” I was at the end of the table so was the last to answer this question. The other women before me were hesitant to call themselves an activist even though their work said otherwise. I must admit I have been hesitant to call myself an activist as well. I guess I have this image of people protesting or demonstrations and I am often not physically present at events like these, not because I don’t want to but sometimes access or energy levels don’t allow me to. So maybe I feel a fraud or like I am not doing enough?

As the other woman were talking I started thinking about the work I do as founder and director of an organization serving people with disabilities and as an artist using my work for social change… yes, it can be considered a form of activism. After all, activism means to take action for social change, doesn’t it? I feel that a person that is active in their community and creating change is an activist – even if sometimes we feel we aren’t doing enough. So in that moment I decided to own the word activist and when it came my turn to answer I confidently said, YES.

In the state of our country the future of people with disabilities sometimes seems uncertain.  Many people have stepped up to take action and not allow the undoing of many years of effort and fighting for disability rights. People are speaking out and their activism does not have to look a certain way. It can mean that you are out there protesting and marching, you can write a letter to your legislators or meet with them in person, you can create some arts for social change, you can sit down and talk to someone who is different from you and commit to be an ally, others have shared their story via a video on social media, and so many other ways that people are getting involved.

I am happy to announce that our theme for ReelAbilities Film Festival Chicago 2017 will be Lights, Camera, Take Action! My goal is that people come and watch fantastic films with great storylines and will leave the theater having been challenged in thought and motivated to take action in the community. Some may act by becoming involved with a local organization and others through individual acts or personal development.

I invite you to join us this October for a few days of excellent programming and as you watch a film I hope your mind is thinking “What will I do to make a positive change in my community?”

Come support ReelAbilities Film Festival Chicago at STATE restaurant for a fundraiser filled with Trivia, food, and drinks!

We are selling $20 wristbands in order to raise money for RAFF. When you arrive to STATE wearing a wristband, you will be given a $10 giftcard to STATE restaurant to use at a later date.

Purchase your tickets here!!!

Fun Fact Friday presents: Susan Peters, At The Intersection of Disability And Film

This week’s Fun Fact:

While Susan Peters may not be a well-known film actor in today’s world, she seems to occupy an interesting space when considering the history of disability and film. Peters was one of the rising film stars of the 1940s, making a name for herself at MGM and receiving the Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for her work in Random Harvest (1942) (Miller). On January 1, 1945, while on a hunting trip with her husband, she reached for her rifle and “it accidentally discharged, sending a bullet through her stomach to lodge in her spine,” paralyzing her from the waist down and causing her to use a wheelchair for the remainder of her life (“Actress”). At first glance, a person may think that this incident would have ended her film career entirely. However, producer Irving Cummings and his son “joined forces with the Orsatti Agency to produce a comeback film for her” (Miller). This film was John Sturges’ The Sign of the Ram, (1948) an adaptation of Margaret Ferguson’s 1945 novel of the same name. The film “offered the perfect vehicle with its tale of a wheelchair-bound poet living in a remote mansion on the British coast,” with  Peters playing a bitter character who “[manipulates] those around her to keep herself the center of attention” (Miller). When this film was presented as a part of Turner Classic Movies’ “The Projected Image: A History of Disability in Film” series in 2012, curator Lawrence Carter-Long seemed to comment on the efforts by those in power and their desire to promote Peters, saying, “’It shows you what Hollywood can do if it wants to’” (“TCM’s”). The film was not a success and proved to be her last film role, but has gained a following in the years since its release (Miller). Interestingly, it has never been released on video or DVD (Miller).

– Jonathan Bartholomy, RAFF Chicago Planning Committee Member

RAFF Chicago runs from October 4-8, 2017. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook!!!

If you would like to get involved with RAFF Chicago please contact us at (773) 203-5039 or email Matt Lauterbach at matt@reelabilitieschicago.org


Works Cited

“Actress Susan Peters Dies, Losing Brave 7-Year Fight.” Toledo Blade, 24 October 1952, p. 1.


jid=bQAEAAAAIBAJ&pg=3847,3889046. Accessed 28 June 2017.

Miller, Frank. “The Sign of the Ram.” tcm, http://www.tcm.com/this-

month/article.html?isPreview=&id=499692|176224&name=Sign-of-the-Ram. Accessed

28 June 2017.

“TCM’s Ben Mankiewicz and Lawrence Carter-Long Introduce ‘Sign of the Ram.’” YouTube,

uploaded by Lawrence Carter-Long, 9 October 2012,


Fun Fact Friday presents: Daniel Day-Lewis, “My Left Foot”, And A Trailblazing Marketing Campaign

This week’s Fun Fact:

While Daniel Day-Lewis may be more recently known for his Academy Award-winning roles in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln (2012) and Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood, (2007) his first Academy Award was earned with his performance in Jim Sheridan’s My Left Foot: The Story of Christy Brown (1989). Day-Lewis portrayed Brown (a writer and artist with cerebral palsy) as an adult. One intriguing aspect of this film is how it was marketed for people with disabilities. For instance, EIN SOF Communications, Inc. employed a “direct mail campaign” that focused on releasing material that encouraged people to see the film. This included “reviews by Disability Studies scholars” and “a ton of feature stories that brought the film vastly more media attention than it would have otherwise received” (Riley II 78). EIN SOF was also able to persuade Miramax to “[pull] the film from exhibitors if their theatre was not wheelchair accessible,” after hearing from disability rights groups following their examination of local venues (“Miramax”). Today, EIN SOF is described as a “leading disability strategic marketing, accessible events and employment strategies woman-owned small business” (“Team”).

Jonathan Bartholomy, RAFF Chicago Planning Committee Member

RAFF Chicago runs from October 4-8, 2017. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook!!!

If you would like to get involved with RAFF Chicago please contact us at (773) 203-5039 or email Matt Lauterbach at matt@reelabilitieschicago.org

Works Cited

“Miramax – My Left Foot.” einsofcommunications, www.einsofcommunications.com/success-stories/miramax-left-foot/. Accessed 21 June 2017.

Riley II, Charles A. Disability and Business: Best Practices and Strategies For Inclusion.

Hanover: University Press of New England, 2006.

“Team.” einsofcommunications, www. http://einsofcommunications.com/about/team/.

Accessed 21 June 2017.


Kartemquin partners with ReelAbilities Chicago to offer ReeLabs

Are you a Chicago-area independent filmmaker who has a disability, or who is making a film about disability or inclusion?

Kartemquin has partnered with ReelAbilities Chicago, the largest film festival in the United States dedicated to sharing the human experience of disability through art and film, to offer ReeLabs––an exclusive critique and discussion of works-in-progress by up to six eligible local filmmakers.

The intimate feedback session is open for incomplete projects at any stage of production, and will take place on Tuesday, October 3rd 2017.

Please complete the ReeLabs submission form for consideration into the program.

Have questions or comments? Contact Matt Lauterbach, ReelAbilities Chicago Co-Director at matt@reelabilitieschicago.org

The KTQ Labs program is a free monthly service at which filmmakers present their demos and rough cuts to the Kartemquin community in return for constructive critique. The program has helped improve over 100 projects in the past decade, including some of the best Midwest-made documentaries in recent years, such as What’s the Matter with Kansas?, Louder Than A Bomb, Andrew Bird: Fever Year, Quest, and many more.

The 2017 ReelAbilities Film Festival is coming to Chicago October 4-8! Visit the festival’s official website here.

Follow ReelAbilities Chicago on Twitter.
Like ReelAbilities Chicago on Facebook.

Andrew Weiler

Meet The Team – Andrew Weiler, Planning Committee Member


Andrew WeilerAfter graduating from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a degree in Film and Digital Media I was accepted into Kartemquin Films’ internship program in Chicago. My transition to the midwest began in Fall 2016 and has opened up a world of opportunity for storytelling. Storytelling is at the core of community. It illuminates our commonalities and can spark collective action.

Chicago has demonstrated to me that through community action most social, political, or cultural issues can be addressed. Hence, following my internship at Kartemquin I pursued opportunities to tell stories as a means to creating empathy and progressive change. First, I independently produced a short documentary about former President of the United States Barack Obama’s farewell address titled “Liberty Farewell”. Secondly, I joined the ReelAbilities Film Festival planning committee as a marketing and social media coordinator.

Both opportunities have absorbed me into communities which have embraced me for who I am. I will continue to make documentaries and support ReelAbilities because I feel apart of something communal and which inspires me to grow personally, professionally, and creatively.

– Andrew Weiler, Planning Committee Meeting

WATCH: “Liberty Farewell” (World Premiere) Friday April 28, 2017 at 12AM CST via facebook live by following @libertyfarewell (Facebook and Twitter )


RAFF Chicago runs from October 4-8, 2017. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook!!!

If you would like to get involved with RAFF Chicago please contact us at (773) 203-5039 or email Matt Lauterbach at matt@reelabilitieschicago.org



Chicago Joins International I Can’t Keep Quiet Movement Celebrating Empowerment, Unique Identities, Engagement & Voice with Community Chorus


The first performance was in Washington, DC at The Women’s March on January 21, 2017.  The choir rehearsed virtually and sang for unsuspecting strangers with flash mob performance of an a cappella version of the song. Since then, groups have performed various versions of the song all over the world. If you feel the need to use your voice for a cause close to your own heart, this song is for you. If you would like to sing for someone who doesn’t have a voice, this song is for you. If you just want to sing, join us.


Our chorus is comprised of people of all ages, from all walks of life, all faiths, and all backgrounds. Senior citizens, women, children, teens and men are all welcome. You do not need singing experience to join us.  If you are a professional singer, an amateur vocalist or new to singing, join us. If you can feel music, join us.

We will stand up against violence in Chicago and globally. We will sing for equality, respect, civil discourse, self-empowerment and integrity-driven conflict resolution and discourse in Illinois. We’ll sing to celebrate each other.


We will rehearse this song and a few others for one week and perform as a large group together downtown Chicago on May 13. Attend a minimum of one-two rehearsals if you cannot attend every one. The most important rehearsals to attend are May 10 and May 11.


For persons who are hospitalized, unable to travel or have physical limitations, we invite you to sing along with us via your iPads, mobile phones and laptops. On May 10 and May 11 we will live stream rehearsals to a closed group via Google Hang Out or Periscope. Details will be announced the first week of May.

Kindly download the Periscope App and set up Google Hang Out in preparation now. On May 13, we will also live stream the performance to ensure everyone is included and singing together at the same time.


Print the lyrics, watch the video and practice the song with friends, family, colleagues, caregivers, and senior citizens ahead of rehearsals. People are practicing now all across our city.


Follow the Women’s March on Chicago Facebook Page (The FB group with 45,000+ members) for ongoing updates.


Both the rehearsal and performance location are wheel chair accessible. Preston Bradley Center is located two blocks east of the CTA Red Line El at Lawrence. Kindly check for handicap access and safe routes for transportation. Street parking is available in Uptown, as well.


May 8 7-9:00p

May 9 7-9:00p

May 10 7-9:00p

May 11 7-9:00p

May 12 7-8:30p


Preston Bradley Center


941 West Lawrence Avenue

Uptown Neighborhood in Chicago

(Located at the intersection of Sheridan Road & Lawrence Avenue 2 blocks east of the El)


Saturday, May 13



Downtown Chicago – To Be Announced


Follow the Women’s March on Chicago Facebook page – the group with 45,000+ members.



Contact producer Kimberly Soenen at kimberlyjsoenen@gmail.com

Rehearse this song in the weeks ahead. Here we go. Together Together.





Coming-Home Still

Fun Fact Friday presents: “Coming Home” (1978), a film using cinematography to empower disabled veterans.

Fun Fact Friday brings you, our audience, facts and information sparking discussions related to “inclusion” as it intersects with disability, culture, and society.

This Weeks’ Fact:
In Hal Ashby’s Coming Home (1978), there are many early sequences taking place at a V.A. Hospital, where physically disabled Vietnam veterans are interacting with each other and taking part in sports related activities, such as basketball and football throwing. Cinematographer Haskell Wexler created a camera dolly that positioned the camera at the same level as the veterans, avoiding high camera angles used in past films to suggest a sense of vulnerability and powerlessness with a character (Norden 267-68).

Jonathan Bartholomy, RAFF Chicago Planning Committee Member

Watch the trailer and pay close attention to the camera angles used to portray Luke Martin (Jon Voight), a paralyzed Vietnam War veteran.

Disclaimer: Brief nudity. This film is rated R. 

Works Cited: Norden, Martin F. The Cinema of Isolation: A History of Physical Disability in the Movies.

RAFF Chicago runs from October 4-8, 2017. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook!!!

If you would like to get involved with RAFF Chicago please contact us at (773) 203-5039 or email Matt Lauterbach at matt@reelabilitieschicago.org