The ReelAbilities Film Festival returns to Toronto on Wednesday, May 10 after a successful debut. The festival, centring around noble stories of disability cultures, will screen feature films and shorts around the city until Thursday, May 18.
Last year’s breakout was a touching experience – one doc actually moved me to tears. And, after watching two beautiful documentaries included in this year’s program, ReelAbilities is quickly becoming one of the most inspiring festivals to hit the 6ix.
Looking at the Stars (DIR. Alexandre Peralta)
Looking at the Stars is about an amazing Brazilian school – the Fernanda Bianchini Ballet Association for the Blind – and follows a couple of amazing visually-impaired women – one student, one vet – who push past their disability with their unbreakable passion for dance. There were times when I caught myself gasping in awe at how remarkable the choreography was, and my emotions were triggered by the heartfelt earnest attitudes on screen.
It’s too bad that documentarian Alexandre Peralta sort of lets his film “go”. He doesn’t have a finish line in mind, nor does it feel like he has a concrete plan for the film’s story. He sets his camera on the dancers (along with their friends, family, and artistic collaborators), and waits for the film to take shape around his subjects. To a degree, Looking at the Stars does evolve on its own (a sudden change to someone’s lifestyle is introduced during the film’s final leg), meaning Peralta’s patience does, eventually, pay off. But, again, it’s very late in the game.
The documentary may be causal to a fault, but it would be unfair for me to turn viewers away from the lovely chills found in Looking at the Stars.
Catch Looking at the Stars at Toronto’s ReelAbilities Film Festival on:
Wednesday, May 10 at 7:00 p.m. @ Wychwood Barns
Imber’s Left Hand (DIR. Richard Kane)
Imber’s Left Hand is harrowing, but it’s more inspirational and educational.
In Richard Kane’s documentary, American painter Jon Imber maintains optimism upon being diagnosed with ALS. He’s saddened by the news along with the withering ability of his right hand – his primary hand for painting – yet he’s excited to see what kind of art he’ll produce while using his less-dominent left hand. He approaches the subject matter with fascination and a gentle sense of humour, which slightly diffuses the distress felt by nearby admirers and his encouraging wife.
Imber often gets so wrapped up in art and his past mentors, that he forgets about his new obstacle – Kane structures his documentary in a similar way. He doesn’t ignore the elephant in the room, and over the course of Imber’s Left Hand, viewers observe how critical ALS is to the human body (the doc’s first scene readies us for what to expect). However, Kane’s heartfelt filmmaking is more willing to commemorate Imber’s craftsmanship and his interest in art history rather than damper Jon’s legacy with an upsetting, malfunctioning disease.
Catch Imber’s Left Hand at Toronto’s ReelAbilities Film Festival on:
Tuesday, May 16 at 7:30 p.m. @ Innis Town Hall
The ReelAbilities Film Festival screens from Wednesday, May 10 to Thursday, May 18.
Click here for more details!