Lights, camera, possibilities

. February 28, 2018.

A good movie tells a story, drawing us in, making us think, and even identify with, the onscreen characters. On Sunday, March 4, The Lucas County Board of Developmental Disabilities hosts the CommUNITY Film Fest, a screening of films submitted by, for and about community members with disabilities. In its fourth year, the Film Fest purposely is scheduled to coincide with the Oscars— red carpet and all—  promoting film as an ideal medium to tell the stories of individuals with disabilities.

This year’s event features 14 films, three of which were independently made. The remaining collaborative films are given to a selected panel of judges, who place them into one of three categories: inclusion, inspiration and celebration of diversity.  This year’s judges are councilperson Sandy Spang, local filmmakers Charles Wetzel and Kim Sanchez, WTOL’s Malena Caruso and Raquel Bravo from the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo. WTOL’s Jordan Strack and BCSN’s Tom Cole will act as MCs for the evening.

Creating something for everyone

As support and service administrator at the LCBDD, Lisa Comes makes sure the event runs smoothly. “We have a more diverse group of movies this year,” Comes explained. “There’s everything from independent films to people making political statements, love stories [ . . . ] something for everyone.”

While participants must generate their own ideas, Comes connects them with volunteers, including herself, to provide assistance in creating the movie. “We meet with individuals who may want to submit but don’t have the physical ability and determine if there’s anyone in their life that could help them, such as a friend, family member or provider. We also work with four or five volunteer filmmakers who are willing to assist,” she said.

Inclusive arts

Awards, given to the best in each category, are presented by winners from previous years.  This year’s venue switch to the Ohio Theatre encourages attendees to visit different parts of town. Previous events were  held at the Valentine Theatre in downtown Toledo and the Maumee Indoor Theatre.  The stage at the Ohio Theatre is not raised, but rather set at the base of the auditorium, which will make it easier for participants and attendees. Members of the adaptive performing arts group iDance will appear and there will be an after-party in the lobby.

“I’ve been able to see the benefit to the individuals who make their movies; it really builds their confidence in what they’re doing: having goals, acknowledging their struggles and getting through those hard times,” Comes said. “We wanted to remind people that folks with disabilities are your neighbors, they’re your coworkers, they’re at the movies with you, they’re everywhere you are. I feel like when you see the stories of people’s lives, you just really feel attached.”

2-5pm, Sunday, March 4
Ohio Theatre and Event Center, 3114 LaGrange St.
419-380-5422 | | 

Sponsored by the Lucas County Board of Developmental Disabilities, the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Toledo, the Superschades Foundation, Camp Courageous and The Arc of NWO.