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Film: Festivals & Features

Through feature films, shorts, documentaries, student films and conversations with guest speakers, our festivals explore a variety of topics, all with the goal of exciting, engaging and educating our audiences. Many of our films have received awards both nationally and internationally. Since our festivals premiered, over 100 outstanding films have been shown at a variety of venues.  


The ReelAbilities Film Festival is dedicated to promoting awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories and artistic expressions of people with different abilities. The festival presents award-winning films, accompanied by discussions and other engaging programs which bring together the community to explore, discuss and celebrate the diversity of our shared human experience.

Sponsored by:

This season's festival will take place Thursday, March 16 - Sunday, March 19, 2017.

ReelAbilities is presented in partnership with the following Community Partners:
Autism Society Central Virginia
Byrd Theatre
Cadence Theatre Company
Commonwealth Autism
Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services
Faison Center
Friendship Circle
Health Brigade
Inclusive Racing
Milk River Arts
NAMI Virginia
Northstar Academy
Special Olympics
St. Joseph’s Villa
United Athletics
Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities
VOCAL Virginia

ReelAbilities - Shameless: The Art of Disability

Director Bonnie Klein gathers a motley crew of artists with diverse disabilities for a pajama party. A comedian, poet, dancer, and others take a subversive look at Hollywood stereotypes of people with disabilities. They decide to continue meeting, and together embark on a mission to create their own images of disability. Followed by a Talk Back with the participants in the Kesem Inclusive Theatre Project

ReelAbilities - Margarita with a Straw

Drama / 100 minutes / Directed by Shonali Bose / English and Hindi / 2015

A rebellious young woman with cerebral palsy leaves her home in India to study in New York, unexpectedly falls in love, and embarks on an exhilarating journey of self-discovery.

Talk Back to follow film.

ReelAbilities - Mimi and Dona

Documentary / 55 minutes / Directed by Sophie Sartain / English / 2015

What happens when love runs out of time? For a 92-year-old mother, Mimi, who has cared 64 years for her daughter, Dona, who has an intellectual disability, it means facing the inevitable -- she will not outlive her daughter -- and finding her daughter a home. This poignant, heartbreaking and, at times, humorous documentary traces this process through the story of a wonderfully quirky and deeply connected mother-daughter duo. The film spotlights the challenges of aging caregivers of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities -- some 4.6 million Americans, 75 percent of whom live at home with family -- and details the ripple effects of Dona's disability on three generations of a Texas family. Produced by Nancy Spielberg.

Talk Back to follow film

ReelAbilities - Gabriel

Drama / 85 minutes / Directed by Lou Howe / English / 2015

A troubled young man searches obsessively for his first love, risking everything in an increasingly desperate pursuit. Starring Rory Culkin.

Talk Back to follow film.

Israeli Film Festival

Our annual Israeli Film Festival is dedicated to fostering an understanding of Israeli culture and access to Israel’s young but thriving film industry. The festival features films based upon various considerations such as awards or nominations, timely subject matter and input from the film community.

Israeli Film Festival - In Search of Israeli Cuisine Film and Israeli Food & Wine Event

A fascinating portrait of the Israeli people told through food. Award-winning filmmaker Roger Sherman follows chef/guide Mike Solomonov of the famous Zahav in Philadelphia to fine restaurants, home kitchens, and open air markets to reveal 70+ cultures that help make Israel one of the world’s hottest food scenes. Chef Solomonov visits over 100 locations all over Israel, talking to chefs, home cooks, winemakers, cheesemakers, farmers, and more about their cultures, their heritages and what the food tells us about what it means to be Israeli.

Patrons of the Arts (Artist Level and above), join us before the film for a unique opportunity to enjoy delicious Israeli dishes and wines from the growing wine industry.

Film festival sponsored by Weinstein Properties, dinner sponsored by Lynn and Jay Schwartz

Israeli Film Festival - Sabena Hijacking

This powerful docu-drama is based on previously undiscovered audio recordings of the former pilot of the Sabena, Captain Reginald Levy. It fuses candid interviews with archive material and dramatic reenactments of the tense scenes inside the aircraft and the control tower as Captain Levy was held at gunpoint. Captain Levy (now deceased) was in command of Sabena Flight 571 from Vienna to Tel Aviv, Israel on May 8, 1972, when it was hijacked by four members from “Black September,” the armed wing of Fatah or Palestine Liberalization Organization. This film finally shares the untold story of what exactly took place on the flight throughout 30 hours of nerve-racking captivity. Therese Halsa, one of the four hijackers who was a girl of just 18 at the time, also gives her version of events, following release from a 220 year prison sentence of which she served 13 years.

Followed by a panel discussion

Israeli Film Festival - The Kind Words

In the wake of their mother's death, Dorona (Rotem Zissman-Cohen) and brothers Netanel (Roy Assaf ) and Shai (Assaf Ben-Shimon) stumble across some unexpected intrigue regarding her past — namely revelations about their family. The ensuing search for truth takes them across France, accompanied by Dorona's devoted but long-suffering husband, Ricki (Tsahi Halevi, who appeared at the Festival in 2013's Bethlehem). Dorona and Ricki face the potential end of their marriage while her brothers grapple with how to define themselves not just as men and fathers, but also as Jewish Israelis. Briskly paced and threaded throughout with wry humor, Zarhin's film asks us to confront our own ideas around identity and walking the emotional tightrope between lies and truth.

Israeli Film Festival - The Band’s Visit

The Alexandria Ceremonial Orchestra arrives in Israel to play at the opening of the Arab Cultural Center. Dressed in full regalia and observing all military police protocol, the members of the orchestra are looking forward to playing at what might be the most important venue of their careers. But it's not just the political nature of an Arab military police band playing traditional Arab music in Israel that makes this event so important; budget cuts and many reorganizations have threatened the continued existence of the Orchestra. Faced with the heavy burden of this assignment, the stoic conductor Tewfiq is determined not to foul their excursion.

The world lost a great talent and visionary when director and actress Ronit Elkabetz died of cancer in April 2016. Through the screening of this film, we wish to remember her beauty and artistic contribution, as it was for The Band’s Visit that Ronit won her third and final Israeli Academy award in 2007.

Israeli Film Festival - Rabin: In His Own Words

An autobiography of sorts, told entirely in Rabin's own voice. Through a combination of rare archival footage, home movies and private letters, his personal and professional dramas unfold before the viewer's eyes—from his childhood as the son of a labor leader before the founding of the State of Israel, through a change of viewpoint that turned him from a farmer into an army man at some of the most critical junctures in Israeli history, through his later years during which he served as Prime Minister and made decisions that enraged a large portion of the public, until the horrific moment when his political career and life were suddenly and tragically brought to an end.

Followed by a panel discussion

For more information about film at the Weinstein JCC, contact Cultural Arts & Jewish Education Director Erin Mahone at 545-8644 or