About Us

Our Story

ReelAbilities: NY Disabilities Film Festival

Initiated in 2007 by JCC Manhattan, ReelAbilities: NY Disabilities Film Festival is the largest festival in the country dedicated to promoting awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories and artistic expressions of people with different abilities. The 7-day festival is renowned for its wide-ranging international film selection, riveting conversations, and performing arts, presented annually at over 35 venues across the NYC metropolitan area.
In 2014, in collaboration with the Cincinnati-based Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled (LADD, Inc.), ReelAbilities NY expanded into a national program, presenting its excellent program in dozens of cities throughout the United States.

Who is Involved?

Anita Altman, Festival Founder

In her almost 3 decades working at UJA-Federation of New York, Anita helped put disabilities on the agenda of New York’s Jewish community, founding a Task Force on People with Disabilities, and with philanthropic support, she expanded and transformed programming for people with disabilities and their families served by UJA-Federation member agencies. Her vision was that a film festival sharing the lives and aspirations of people with disabilities could help raise the consciousness of the New York community about our common humanity and the value of each person, without regard to his or her ability or disability.

Isaac Zablocki, Festival Founder & Director

Isaac Zablocki is the Director of Film Programs at JCC Manhattan. He attended film school at Columbia University and went on to work at Miramax Films. Previously, he produced and directed feature films and developed film educational programs for the Board of Education. Since 2004, Isaac has been developing film programs at the JCC including the Israel Film Center. Beyond ReelAbilities, he programs multiple film festivals annually, including the acclaimed Other Israel Film Festival, which focuses on Arab and minority populations in Israel.

Ravit Turjeman, Festival Director

Founder and Managing Director of Dragoman Films, a NYC-based boutique distribution company, specializing in niche-based film marketing in North America. Ravit also serves as director and programmer of numerous film festivals in the Tri-State area, as well as business development & marketing consultant to various organizations in a variety of industries.

Sabrina Bleich, Program Associate

Sabrina Bleich is the Program Associate for ReelAbilities: New York, as well as for the Israel Film Center, Other Israel Film Festival, and for the film program at JCC Manhattan. Previously, Sabrina studied History at Yale University and has worked in oral history, film, and theater production.

Yaara Kedem, ReelAbilities North America Coordinator, Guest Liaison 

Yaara is the coordinator of ReelAbilities North American based in NY. She graduated with a degree in Film & Television and Special Education Studies at Tel Aviv University in Israel. She spent several years in post-production, program localization, and film brand development for film festivals, interactive gaming, live events, TV networks and children’s programs. Alongside, she was working as the Travel Director and Tour Leader at a summer camp and travel program for children and teens with special needs based in Pennsylvania.

Film Selection Committee

Each year, ReelAbilities receives hundreds of submissions. The NY-based Film Selection Committee, comprised of individuals from diverse professional backgrounds, previews all submissions in consideration for the NY edition, after which each host city makes its own curation from that selection.

      • Anita Altman, Festival Co-founder, formerly UJA-Federation of New York
      • Lynn Bartner-Wiesel, LMT, Mommy, Wife & JCC Volunteer
      • Barbara Dobkin, Dobkin Family Foundation
      • Michelle Feig, Festival Co-chair, JCC Manhattan’s Board Member
      • Ronnie Ellen Raymond, Disability Advocate
      • Dominick Evans, Film Director, Write, Activist
      • Faye Ginsburg, Director, Center for Media, Culture and History, New York University
      • Pat Goldman, J.E. & Z.B. Butler Foundation
      • Anita Hollander, Independent Artist, Chair SAG, AFTRA & Performers with Disabilities
      • Xian Horn, Writer and Activist
      • Andrew Johnson, Founding Co-Producer and Editor, AdaptLab Productions
      • Anna Pakman, Head of Digital, Empire State Development
      • Julie Ridge, Founder and President, Frank Ridge Memorial Foundation
      • Oren Sauerhaft, Co-founding Producer and Cinematographer, AdaptLab Productions
      • Leigh Silver, Writer, Director and Creative Producer, AdaptLab Productions
      • Ravit Turjeman, Founder & Managing Director, Dragoman Films
      • Daisy Wright, Filmmaker
      • Isaac Zablocki, Director of Film Programs, JCC Manhattan

Advisory Committee

    • Lynn Bartner-Wiesel
    • Victor Calise, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities
    • Hannah Cohen, Coordinator of Special Needs Parenting Programs, JCC Manhattan
    • Ronnie Ellen Raymond
    • Richard Ellenson, Cerebral Palsy Foundation
    • Leslie Epstein Pearson
    • Faye Ginsburg, Council for the Study of Disability, New York University
    • Xian Horn
    • Matt Kaplowitz, Bridge Multimedia
    • Alexis Kashar, President, Jewish Deaf Resource Center (JDRC)
    • Fran Prezant, M.Ed. CCC, Disability Consultant, Researcher , Author
    • Jennifer Rawlings, storyteller, writer, filmmaker
    • Shirley Silver, Board Member, JCC Manhattan
    • Mayer Waxman, Selfhelp Community Services, Inc.

    Festival Council

      • Lynn Bartner Wiesel
      • Mark Chessler
      • Barbara Dobkin
      • Michelle Feig
      • Jennifer Krevitt
      • Dr. Ian Lentnek
      • David Manzano
      • Holly Posner
      • Jordana Sandler Manzano
      • Jay Sleman
      • Andrea Zaretsky

    ReelAbilities: NY Disabilities Film Festival

    334 Amsterdam Avenue
    New York, NY 10023
    (646) 505-5738 / TTY (877) 505-6708

    reelabilities@jccnyc.org

    ...