Superfest: The International Disability Film Festival

Saturday, November 4, 2017 (All day) to Sunday, November 5, 2017 (All day)
Photo of child playing among trees
This 31st annual festival celebrates cutting-edge cinema that portrays disability culture in all its diverse, complex and engaging facets. November 4, 2pm and 6pm, The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life. November 5, 1pm, Contemporary Jewish Museum. Free to $20.
Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, 2121 Allston Way, Berkeley, and Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission Street, San Francisco
LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability
Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability
Event extras: 

November 4, afternoon

  • Chief (Documentary short, U.S., 2016). This reverent ode to the service dog tells the story of German immigrant Sonja Ohldag, who is diagnosed with a seizure disorder after moving to the U.S. in 1999. Unable to afford a service animal from an organization, Sonja trains her dogs herself and takes a chance on Chief, who is not your average service dog. Directed by Amir Jaffer.
  • When Brenden Met Hiroe (Documentary short, Australia/Japan, 2016). A photographer from Australia returns to Japan to reunite with his friend Hiroe, who he met at a blind and deaf/blind workshop the year before. The pair spends an unforgettable day together. Directed by Steve Mayer-Miller.
  • The Barber of Augusta (Documentary short, Canada, 2016). Toronto native Matthew Genser goes to great lengths to find his unexpected superpower: cutting hair. Like all superheroes, he has a dark side; but in his costume, he’s invincible. Put on your cape and get lined up! Directed by Michèle Hozer. Liane Yasumoto’s Jury’s Choice Award.
  • Mind/Game: The Unique Journey of Chamique Holdsclaw (Documentary short, U.S., 2015). Basketball superstar Chamique Holdsclaw faced six felony counts, the possibility of prison and public attacks on her character. Her roller­-coaster attempts at recovery from near­ suicide reveal an uphill battle against the stigma of psychiatric disability and show a deep journey that is powerful, revelatory, instructive and real. Directed by Rick Goldsmith.

November 4, evening

  • Traveller (Documentary short, Myanmar/Japan, 2014). A young woman born with a disability searches for a career despite rampant discrimination. She travels to Japan where she finds strength in disability activism and community, and returns home with a newfound sense of pride. Directed by Nwaye Zar Che Soe, Mine Aung Lin Tun and Pyae Zaw Phyo. Disability Justice Award.
  • On the Outs: Re-Entry for Inmates with Disabilities (Documentary short, U.S., 2016). On the Outs follows three inmates with disabilities as they prepare for reentry, get discharged and navigate the challenges of returning to their old lives. Produced by the Amplifying Voices of Inmates with Disabilities (AVID) Prison Project, this documentary scrutinizes the prison institution and its treatment of inmates with disabilities. Directed by Jordan Melograna.
  • Stab: Life as a Voodoo Doll (Animated short, U.S., 2017). This comic medical memoir is dedicated to all those who live with chronic illness or disability. Writer/director Jeanette Castillo pairs her tongue-and-cheek personal account of living with Type 1 diabetes with criticism of the American healthcare system. Directed by Jeanette Castillo.
  • Sign (Short, U.S., 2016). Two men meet on a train — and a tender and unspoken love story unfolds. Through vignettes, music and sign language, Sign follows the relationship between Ben (hearing) and Aaron (Deaf) as they navigate life’s milestones side by side. Directed by Andrew Keenan-Bolger.
  • In Crystal Skin (Short, U.S./Colombia, 2016). In Bogotá, Colombia, a charismatic 11­-year-­old named Maria lives with the limitations imposed by a rare skin disease. Her fierce bond with her mother is tested and strengthened as they struggle to preserve Maria’s swiftly passing childhood. Directed by Michaela O’Brien. Best of Festival, Short.

November 5, 1pm

  • Lefty and Loosey (Fiction short, U.S., 2016). In this techy ode to film noir, two amputee veterans turned private investigators uncover a diabolical plot and must overcome their fears to crack the code and save the world. Directed by Zico Abrar.
  • Rhizophora (Documentary short, Germany, 2015). Forty years after the Vietnam War, the toxic remnants of Agent Orange have not faded. In this dreamlike meditation on the impact of war and the resilience of humanity, Rhizophora follows 11 disabled Vietnamese youth on a whimsical, poignant and whirling journey through a day in their lives. Directed by Julia Metzger-Traber and Davide De Lillis.
  • On Beat (Documentary short, U.S., 2015). This documentary short follows the lives of a deaf couple with hearing children and the unexpected outlet that brings their family closer together. Directed by Cheng Zhang and Reid Davenport.
  • Deej (Documentary feature, U.S., 2017). After being abandoned by his birth parents, DJ found not only a loving family but a life in words through a text-to-voice synthesizer. Told by DJ himself, Deej was filmed over six years in the American Midwest and chronicles his journey to become Oberlin’s first non-speaking, autistic student. Directed by Rob Rooy. Best of Festival, Feature.
  • Well Done (Short, Italy, 2016). A sharply-dressed young man with Down syndrome sneaks out of his house to visit an art museum and causes a disruption. Through humor and irreverence, this film reminds us that art can be interpreted by everyone, not just the “experts.” Directed by Riccardo Di Gerlando.
  • The Chili Story (Animated short, U.S., 2014). A true story about desire and the arousal of taboo on a BART train. Directed by Patty Berne. P.K. Walker Innovation in Craft Award.


Photo: In Rhizophora, disabled Vietnamese youth share a whimsical, poignant and whirling journey through a day in their lives.