Buy Gift Cards
happening DOWNTOWN

Happening Blog

Reel to Real

Mar 01, 2017

Cincinnati is rolling out the red carpet for 2017 Cincinnati ReelAbilities! Film Festival. The Duke Energy Convention Center will be transformed into a screening extravaganza from March 9 to 12, with star-studded parties, workshops, special events, speakers, and more than 40 thought-provoking films showcasing the stories, lives and art of people who experience disabilities.

RJ Blue BackgroundThe keynote speaker for the lunch on March 9 is R.J. Mitte. Best known for his role of Walter ‘Flynn’ White Jr. for five riveting seasons of AMC’s Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning thriller, Breaking Bad, and the face of GAP’s International 2014 “Lived In Summer” Campaign, Mitte joins a list of Hollywood stars, dignitaries, and ReelAbilities film VIPs for this festival.

Like his character in “Breaking Bad”, Mitte, has cerebral palsy, however, milder than his character. He had to learn to walk on crutches and slur his speech for the role. Following that show, he was on the big screen with a lead role portraying a character without a disability in “Dixieland” which premiered at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival. That same year he walked the runway as part of Men’s Fashion Week in Milan, Berlin and New York City, taking the fashion an entertainment industry by storm. Additionally, Mitte’s television credits include SHOWTIME’s Weeds, NBC’s Vegas and CW’s Everybody Hates Chris. He is a costar on ABC Family’s hit show, Switched at Birth. To heighten awareness and education of his own issues with bullying and prejudice, Mitte is an official ambassador for United Cerebral Palsy and Shriners Hospitals for Children; and is the celebrity face for the #CutTheBull Campaign in support of children with disabilities. 

Buy Your Tickets

Join in a tribute to military heroes and veterans. See some of our region’s greatest locally produced short films. Learn how to act, model, tell your story or create low tech films. Create your own art. Transform the way you perceive differences, the way you see, appreciate and welcome each other. Film trailers and ticket sales for the film screenings and parties are available online at

New at the expanded 2017 Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival:

  • More ways to connect, to be inspired, and to party. Now in one central location, the Festival has become a four-day, entertainment and celebrity packed extravaganza with back to back events and networking opportunities. Between films and celebrations, guests can participate in fun workshops, practice creating art, or meeting new friends in one of the lounges.
  • More films and more film screenings. This year’s Festival will include screenings of over 40 films, many of which have never been shown before in this region – including a local  with powerful, transformational messages.
  • More nonprofit organizations to benefit. In 2015, the Festival raised money for 17 local nonprofit organizations whose work is about enriching and strengthening the lives of people who experience disability. This year’s Festival will benefit 28 local nonprofit organizations.
  • Two powerful events to pay tribute to veterans. A Veterans’ reception and film screening will be Friday evening followed by a Veteran’s breakfast and film screening Saturday morning, each with keynote speakers who are nationally recognized Purple Heart recipients.
  • A new Interfaith Breakfast on Friday. Congregations of diverse faiths will join together for important conversations around strengthening congregations and communities through inclusion. Michigan State Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein will be the featured Keynote Speaker.
  • A wild, new concept for a Saturday night party. Co-hosted by two of the Film Festival’s VIP celebrities from a feature film (we’ll reveal this in January!), we promise this will be one party you will not want to miss!

Thousands are expected for the four-day, Hollywood style film screening extravaganza that will benefit local nonprofit organizations whose work is enriching and strengthening the lives of individuals who have disabilities, their families and their communities. It will include star-studded parties and events, workshops, speakers, conversation sports and more than 40 exciting films that show case the stories, lives and art of people who experience disabilities. Attendees will be able to learn how to act, model, tell their story, see entertainment, and create films on their smart phone. The goal is that people will leave having been uplifted with a new perception of difference, appreciation and welcoming of each other.

Stars to Participate In Festival Kick Off Events

Jamie Brewer
Known for her role of Adelaide ‘Addie” Lagdon in American Horror Story, she is also the first model with Down syndrome to walk the runway at New York Fashion Week.

Lauren Potter
As an actress, Lauren is best known for her popular role as Becky Jackson in the popular television show, Glee. However, she also devotes much time to advocating and raising awareness for disability related causes..and against bullying.

John Lawson
Lawson is a television, film and commercial PWD actor with past roles in the long running television crime dramas, Law and Order, Law and Order: SVU, and FX's American Horror Story: Freak Show.

Kurt Yaeger
A former BMX rider turned actor, Yaeger is a below the knee amputee. His most recent TV credit sinclude the fan favorite character on FX’s hit show Sons Of Anarchy, the new Cinemax show Quarry and a new major recurring role on CBS’ hit NCIS: Los Angeles.

Nic Novicki
Nic has toured around the country as a stand-up comedian. Included in his acting credits are TV shows: The Sopranos, Private Practice, and Austin and Ally. He is also a producer and founder/director of the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge.

Michael Schlitz
Schlitz is a retired U.S. Army platoon seargeant, Gary Sinise Foundation ambassador and Purple Heart recipient.

Bryan Anderson
Anderson is a retired US Army sergeant and Gary Sinise Foundation ambassador and purple heart recipient.

Stephen and Elizabeth Wampler
As the world and his family watched, Steve Wampler who was born with a severe form of cerebral palsy, pulled himself with one hand 20,000 times in six days to conquer the world’s biggest rock, El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. The documentary of his journey was featured at the 2015 Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival.

Ali Stroker    
An actress known for her role in Glee, in 2015 Stroker made history by becoming the first Broadway actress in a wheelchair to appear on a Broadway stage

Richard Bernstein
A disability rights attorney, he made history when he was sworn into office, becoming the nation’s first state Supreme Court Justice for the state of Michigan.

Sam Suchmann and Mattie Zufelt
These two best friends from Rhode Island met in Special Olympics and are filmmakers of the wildly popular, kick-ass movie, Spring Break Zombie Massacre.

Rich Clifford
Clifford is a retired NASA astronaut and the first person to conduct a six-hour spacewalk while docked to an orbiting space station. He did that during his third space launch after learning he has Parkinson’s disease

Other VIP celebrities for the 2017 Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival will be announced. 

About LADD, Inc. (organizer of the Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival)
Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled (LADD, Inc.) is a 41 year old Cincinnati-based nonprofit organization that is guided by the belief that every person has ability and value, and that there is great strength in diversity. LADD works to propel the inclusion and success of nearly 500 adults in Hamilton County who have developmental disabilities through housing and employment options, life skills training, and advocacy leadership.


Find out what’s happening in downtown Cincinnati. Sign up for our weekly email here!