ReelAbilities Film Festival Announces Special Guests and Live Events — Film News in Brief

ReelAbilities Film Festival Announces Special Guests and Live Events

The New York ReelAbilities Film Festival has announced a selection of exclusive events and speakers to accompany its 13th annual ReelAbilities Film Festival programming.

Highlights include the pilot reading of “Disgraced” with Julie Klausner (“Difficult People”), Shannon DeVido (“Best Summer Ever”)  and Alex Scordelis (“Difficult People”)

The festival’s closing night will also feature the subject of the film “Not Going Quietly,” activist Ady Barkan, along with the filmmakers. Highlighted panels at the festival include: Black Future Month: Legacy, Present & Afro-Futurism on the realities that keep us from the American “dream.” The panel will include Black-disabled filmmakers: Keith Jones, JD Michaels, Tameka Citchen-Spruce, Safiya Eshe Gyasi, Diana Elizabeth Jordan and Trelanda R. Lowe.

The 13th annual ReelAbilities Film Festival runs from April 29 through May 5. Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased at

Cleopatra Entertainment Acquires Distribution Rights to ‘Escape from Area 51’

Cleopatra Entertainment has acquired the North American, U.K., New Zealand, Australian, and South African distribution rights to Eric Mittleman’s “Escape from Area 51.”

The science-fiction/comedy stars Donna D’Errico (“Baywatch), Chris Browning (“Sons of Anarchy”) and Frankie Sixx (daughter of Mötley Crüe founder and bassist Nikki Sixx), and will be released domestically on VOD Platforms this summer, and also as a Home Entertainment DVD and Blu-Ray package.

Robert Rhine of Girls and Corpses produced and financed the film in association with Sterling Entertainment and TomCat Films.

The story follows a group of teenage conspiracy theorists try to raid the infamous military base, Area 51, in the Nevada desert. No one gets in – but someone gets out. Sheera (D’Errico), a sexy alien warrior, uses a power glitch to escape from captivity at Area 51. Her escape using a portal gun sets off an energy signature that attracts the attention of her arch-rival in space Sklarr (Browning). Sheera must now elude an Area 51 scientist, as well as Sklarr, to rescue her fellow warrior and find her way back to her planet.

The rights deal was brokered by Founder/CEO Brian Perera, VP/GM Tim Yasui of Cleopatra Entertainment and by Ted Chalmers of TomCat Films on behalf of the filmmakers.

‘Playing with Sharks,’ ‘Everything in the End’ Top Winners at Sun Valley Film Festival

“Playing with Sharks” and “Everything in the End” were both given the Audience Award that ended in a tie at the Sun Valley Film Festival.

The Sun Valley Film Festival, which took place April 14-18, also named “See You Then” and “Searchers” for Best Narrative and Documentary Feature Film.

The One in a Million Awards that honor feature-length stories made for under one million dollars went to “Marvelous & The Black Hole” for narrative feature and “Kid Candidate” was recognized in Documentary feature film.

Gal Gadot and Shaka King were among those presenting awards for the Idaho festival.

New York University Reveals 2021 Purple List

New York University’s annual picks of best production-ready screenplays from its Tisch School of the Arts graduate film students and recent alumni has been released.

Inspired by Franklin Leonard’s Black List, the NYU Purple List has chosen 44 scripts from 46 screenwriters. 28 projects from women, 27 are from Black/Asian or minority ethnic filmmakers, and 7 LGBTQ+. Thirteen of the projects have had theatrical releases. Oscar-nominated filmmakers Chloe Zhao and Shaka King have previously made the Purple List.

The five screenplays are Adrian Cardenas’ “El Cuento de la Ballena” (“The Story of the Whale”), Raha Amirfazli’s “In the Land of Brothers,” Sontenish Myers’ “Stampede,” Farida Zahran’s “The Leftover Ladies” and Juan Pablo Daranas Molina’s “Zoe.”

RespectAbility Expands Network of Consultants and Showcases New Website

RespectAbility, the nonprofit focused on fighting stigmas of people with disabilities in media, has announced the launch of its  Entertainment Media Consulting Team website.

In an effort to progress representation of people with disabilities in film and television, RespectAbility has fostered a continually growing relationship with Hollywood studios and agencies including Netflix, Sony Pictures Entertainment, CAA and WarnerMedia.

Last year, RespectAbility team members consulted on over a dozen films, television episodes and related projects in the industry.

Lauren Appelbaum, VP of Communications at RespectAbility, head of the Entertainment and News Media outreach team said, “As RespectAbility’s network has grown, so has our workload, leading to our ever-expanding consulting team,” she said. “Our goal is to use our vast team of experts representing a variety of lived experiences with disabilities to help ensure the most authentic representation. However, as we continue to work with the industry, we are not only providing quality consultants, but also providing connections to writers, directors, actors, and crew with disabilities for companies to hire. While hiring consultants is great, nothing can replace having disabled writers in the writers’ room and people with disabilities involved throughout the production process.”


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