On March 28, a five-day short film challenge started that provided disabled creators a chance to represent themselves from, behind, and in front of the camera.
This year is the 10th anniversary of the Easter Seals Disability Film Challenge. Organizer Nic Novicki reports that 115 unique films from around the world were submitted. This year’s theme was Romance, with three different categories: Unlikely couple, a first encounter, or a reunion. Films were required to be under 5 minutes. The films were released on April 8th on Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram. Finalists for the film challenge are announced April 22nd and there will be a screening with New Filmmakers LA. A virtual/in-person award ceremony will be hosted on May 4th at Sony Pictures.
Activist/Creator Mia Ives-Rublee, a disabled Asian American, helped produce, write, direct, and act in her first short film titled “Paper Flowers.” The film begins after an emotional medical appointment. Mia struggles to accept her new prognosis. “Paper Flowers” is about love and reconnecting with your support system during difficult times.
“Film programs like Easter Seals Disability Film Challenge are important because it allows folks who aren’t well represented in the film industry to test their skills and get their work out to an audience,” said Ives-Rublee. “Visibly disabled Asian Americans are rarely represented on TV and in films, particularly as main characters or love interests.”
“In drama class in high school, I was rejected from roles in school plays. I got involved in interactive theater in college and wanted to pursue an acting or directing career. Unfortunately, I never saw any roles that fit me due to my size, use of a wheelchair, and ethnicity. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to create a film that I feel is authentic to disabled Asian Americans. From the love shown through food to the medical fears and need for independence, all of it displays a nuance to the character I play that I haven’t gotten to see on screen.”
See Mia’s full short film here:
You can see all the short films submitted to the 2023 Easter Seals Disability Film Challenge through their YouTube channel here.