abaraYesterday I interviewed Leah Johnston, Festival Manager of Abära for an interview which will be aired on Wednesday October 19th on Culture Cafe on RTE 2XM.

The few days sound amazing and the positivity I got from just speaking to Leah about the festival was amazing.  It’s a great inspiring way to highlight disabilities but also to highlight the talents and determination of those with disabilities.

Here’s what you need to know:

Abära, Ireland’s first ever International Disability Film Festival kicks off this October with a selection of stunning films from around the world. Aimed at celebrating the progress made by people with disabilities while increasing awareness and understanding of the many challenges still faced by people with disabilities across the globe, Abära opens on Thursday, October 20th and continues until October 23rd.

This innovative Festival is organised by the Dóchas Disability and International Development (DID) working group, in conjunction with Arts & Disability Ireland and would not be possible without the invaluable financial contribution of the Department of Justice and Equality. Running in various venues across Dublin City – The IFI, Temple Bar and axis, Ballymun, with sister events taking place in Galway at the Eye Cinema. Abära is an unmissable diary date for all interested in quality cinema which addresses subjects rarely tackled in mainstream culture or media.

Abära chair, Aidan Leavy comments, “It’s a privilege to present Abära to you – Ireland’s first ever International Disability Film Festival, cinema by, with and about people with disabilities.  These incredible, critically acclaimed films challenge stereotypes, enrich our understanding of the issues surrounding disability in the global north and south and offer different perspectives of lives lived in our world.  They’re also entertaining and thought-provoking films which can only add to the already rich offering of cinema in this country.”

An Abära must-see is the 2010 Academy Award winner for Best Documentary Short ‘Music by Prudence’. It traces the path of a girl with a disability called arthrogryposis, and her remarkable transcendence from a world of hatred and superstition into one of music, love, and possibilities. Prudence Mabhena will be conversing in a post screening talk with Sinead Crowley, Arts & Media correspondent with RTÉ in the IFI with a similar event taking place in the Eye Cinema, Galway with Prudence.

One of the most anticipated films of the festival is UK director Lucy Walker’s remarkable Academy Award short-listed documentary, ‘Blindsight’. The film, which will be shown in axis, Ballymun, follows the emotional journey of six blind Tibetan teenagers who climb the north face of Mount Everest with their hero, blind American mountaineer, Erik Weihenmayer, and their teacher, Sabriye Tenberken, the founder of Tibet’s only school for blind children.

Abära is also delighted to present the compelling new documentary from Dutch filmmaker, Marjin Poels, ‘The Voice of 650 MillionTimes One, which features disabled people across Africa and Asia talking openly about their exclusion from society in everyday matters such as healthcare, reproductive health and their vulnerability to HIV and AIDS.   Malcolm Quigley, VSO Ireland and James O’Connor of Open Heart House are partaking in a post screening discussion.

Other highlights of the festival include ‘Happy Birthday Thalidomide’ which will be followed by a post screening discussion between actor/comedian Mat Fraser in conversation with Finola Cassidy of the Irish Thalidomide Association. The Senegalese short ‘The Little Girl who Sold The Sun’ and a screening of the feature ‘Black Sun’ which will be introduced by talented Irish producer, director Hilary Fennell among many many others.

Another exciting aspect of the festival is its progressive schools programme, which is based on children’s stories from around the world. Dr. Michael Brown, Development Media Workshop, will facilitate this programme to schools in Dublin and Galway.

Abära means ‘shine’ in Amharic, the main language of Ethiopia. Abära implies positive energy, optimism and forward thinking – like this Festival, and the people it is about.

A Festival Pass costs €2, and gives free admission to all festival screenings. Festival passes are available from IFI and axis box office.  However, seating at screenings will be allocated on a first-come first-served basis.

For further information about Abära visit www.abara.ie.

The Dóchas Disability and International Development (DID) working group is a coalition of national and international NGOs working or interested in the field of disability and international development. The group aims to advance the debate around global disability issues and to promote the inclusion of disability as a key factor in future development planning, funding and service delivery.

Member organisations include:  Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI), Sightsavers International, Plan Ireland, The Centre for Global Health (TCD), Christian Blind Mission (cbm), Comber Romanian Orphanage Appeal, Center for International Rehabilitation (CIR), Livability Ireland, Disability Aid Abroad, Centre for Disability Law and Policy (NUI Galway), Disabled Peoples International, Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, Misean Cara, Self Help Ireland, Power4Good, Children in Crossfire, Camara, Tearfund and Arts & Disability Ireland (ADI).