Brian Tolley works surrounded by his art created from twist-ties in “Mr. Twister,” a film about a teen with autism who wanted to combat how people were treating him differently from others. Screenshot courtesy of Sproutflix

Brian Tolley works surrounded by his art created from twist-ties in “Mr. Twister,” a film about a teen with autism who wanted to combat how people were treating him differently from others. Screenshot courtesy of Sproutflix

Film fest seeks to shatter stereotypes about disability, employment

Despite a shortage of labor across the region, state and nation, individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities remain underemployed, with fewer hours and lower wages than their fellow workers.

Organizers of the inaugural All IN Film Fest — a collaborative project between Peninsula College’s Magic of Cinema, Studium Generale, ʔaʔk̓ʷustəƞáwt̓xʷ House of Learning, Peninsula College Longhouse and Clallam Mosaic — look to address those employment issues and others when they share nine stories during a week-long series of film screenings and discussions, both virtual and in-person, beginning Monday, Oct. 18.

The majority of the films were purchased from Sproutflix, a distributor that houses the largest and most diverse international collection of films made by and featuring people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDDs).

Sharing these stories is “long overdue,” according to Clallam Mosaic board president Bonne Smith.

“These films are wonderful stories of friends, neighbors and family members … Film is art, and creativity allows people to see and hear a story, to search for what is shared in common with a character,” she said.

Through the words of individuals with IDD and family members, the collection of films seek to challenge the myths and stereotypes surrounding disability, employment, creativity and learning.

Films run in length from 5 to 32 minutes. The All IN Film Festival begins free streaming with a nightly film each evening at 7 p.m., Monday-Wednesday, Oct. 18-20.

Festival lineup

Kicking off the series on Oct. 18 is a screening of “Cassilly: How I Got to College,” the story of a young woman who overcame numerous barriers to attend and succeed at community college. An encore screening of the film is set for Oct. 20.

On Tuesday, Oct. 19, the film “One Question” will be shown. The production crew for this film included eight people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The film shot over five days features 35 people with IDD answering the same one question: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would you change?

At 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 21, Peninsula College will host a special Studium Generale to celebrate October as National Disability Employment Month. The virtual event will begin with a screening of “The Interviewer,” an Australian film that has been used for corporate equity and diversity training.

“There’s the idea that individuals with IDD are not capable of learning beyond the jobs they are relegated to, that an individual with IDD cannot rise up in the ranks,” Smith said; this film challenges that perception.

“The Interviewer” will be followed by a panel discussion led by Catherine McKinney, Clallam Mosaic’s program and communications director. Panelists, including of self-advocates from the IDD community and their family members, will discuss how employment has affected their lives.

Starting at 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 22, in-person screenings and discussions will take place on the lawn behind Peninsula College’s Pirate Union Building. The evening will begin with the documentary “JMAXX & the Universal Language.” Viewers are introduced to Jarell, a teenager with autism who uses hip-hop dance as a means to communicate his true self to the world. Viewers learn about Jarell’s struggles to connect with peers, his feelings of isolation and his experience with bullying.

The second film, “Acting Normal,” showcases a performing arts studio for adults with IDD. The studio and its actors are working to change the pre-conceived ideas of Hollywood casting agents, directors and producers.

A third film, “Mr. Twister,” shares the art of Brian, a teen with autism. Through his own form of creativity making sculptures with twist-ties, the boy who used to be withdrawn and nearly nonverbal has blossomed into a working artist.

Beginning at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 23, the in-person screenings and discussion will begin with “Bye” a short documentary that follows Jayden, a 2-and-a-half year-old boy diagnosed with autism through his first months of school in the Bronx, New York.

A second film, “Extra Ordinary,” shares the lives of two young people living with Down syndrome mostly narrated by the caring, honest and concerned voices of their parents. The film challenges the stigmas and stereotypes associated with Down syndrome, showing that everyone can have a happy, meaningful life.

The third film will be an encore screening of “The Interviewer.”

The final film of the All IN Film Fest will be the documentary “What Was It Like?,” a short film showcasing eight filmmakers with intellectual disability who interview their parents about what it was like when doctors delivered the news of their diagnosis.

Festival details

For in-person screenings, attendees should bring their own blankets or outdoor chairs. Attendees are also invited to bring their own snacks and non-alcoholic beverages to enjoy during the films. Plan to carry out what is brought in.

COVID-19 safety protocols will be in place, which will include three-feet social distancing and masking when moving in shared spaces. As required by state mandate, Peninsula College students must be vaccinated to attend on-campus events.

Restroom access will be provided, and an easy sign-in process will be required.

The Peninsula College campus map can be found through the college website (pencol.edu/locations/main-campus/campus-map).

Links to the Zoom sessions can be found at pencol.edu/events/magic-cinema-all-film-festival-clallam-mosaic.

Links to more information, film trailers and Zoom links can be found through the Clallam Mosaic website at clallammosaic.org/all-in-film-fest.

If inclement weather is predicted for Oct. 22 or Oct. 23, the outdoor screenings will be moved onto Zoom. A decision to move the screenings online will be made by Oct. 20; check Peninsula College (pencol.edu) and Clallam Mosaic (clallammosaic.org) websites on Thursday, Oct. 21, for more information.

In the film “The Interviewer,” James Dexter (portrayed by Gerard Odwyer) ushers an unsure Thomas Howell (portrayed by Winston Cooper) into a meeting room to conduct a job interview. Screenshot courtesy of Sproutflix

In the film “The Interviewer,” James Dexter (portrayed by Gerard Odwyer) ushers an unsure Thomas Howell (portrayed by Winston Cooper) into a meeting room to conduct a job interview. Screenshot courtesy of Sproutflix

In the film “The Interviewer,” James Dexter (portrayed by Gerard Odwyer) ushers an unsure Thomas Howell (portrayed by Winston Cooper) into a meeting room to conduct a job interview. Screenshot courtesy of Sproutflix

In the film “The Interviewer,” James Dexter (portrayed by Gerard Odwyer) ushers an unsure Thomas Howell (portrayed by Winston Cooper) into a meeting room to conduct a job interview. Screenshot courtesy of Sproutflix

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