NYWIFT Pronounces Loreen Arbus Incapacity Consciousness Grant Awardees

New York Women in Film and Television (NYWIFT) is pleased to announce the award of the Loreen Arbus Disability Awareness Grant to winner Lisa Denker for her documentary Still Judy. Alyscia Cunningham first received an award for her documentary I Am More Than My Hair. Awarded the 14th time to complete the film, the scholarship is granted through the generosity of longtime disability lawyer Loreen Arbus and awards $ 7,500 to a filmmaker for a film on issues related to physical or developmental disabilities . The Honorable Mention will go to $ 1,500.

Lisa Denker’s Still Judy is an hour-long documentary about the remarkable Judy Finelli who overcomes the burden of multiple sclerosis by reconnecting with the arts of THE CIRCUS and her family and regaining the will to live anew. I Am More Than My Hair is a documentary and photo book that raises awareness of alopecia and dispels the myth of what beauty should “look like” by introducing women who have experienced hair loss and how they empower themselves to see beauty beyond the standards of the media.

The projects were selected from a wide variety of applications submitted by women filmmakers across the country.

“It is not only important to give incentives to people with disabilities who want to realize their dream of becoming a filmmaker, but this scholarship in and of itself raises awareness as it is offered by organizations with a living membership,” said Loreen Arbus. “NYWIFT is a pre-eminent organization in the entertainment industry. My seven grants are visible across the country and reach various members of organizations, which exponentially increases the number of people thinking of helping people with disabilities through their arts.”

“NYWIFT is committed to raising the underrepresented voices of the disabled community and empowering women filmmakers through our continued partnership with Loreen Arbus,” said Cynthia Lopez, executive director of NYWIFT. “We are particularly proud to be able to support two films this year that both celebrate the joy and resilience of women and the empowerment of people with disabilities. In a year that has been particularly difficult for so many, it makes particularly sense to have two To support films that are driven by hope. “

In addition, Arbus Fellow Still Judy received a post-production grant in kind for audio description for blind and visually impaired viewers, generously donated by Michele Spitz of Woman of Her Word. Spitz has been supporting the NYWIFT Loren Arbus scholarship holders since 2016.

“It is my great honor to have the opportunity to describe Judy’s remarkable life journey and to share her extraordinary story with the visually impaired and blind audience. I am equally proud to vote in perfect coordination with Loreen Arbus for the meaningful cause of inclusive media accessibility stand and NYWIFT, “said Michele Spitz.

“It was important to show that besides Judy’s life with MS, there is a whole layer of complex people,” said Lisa Denker, Still Judy filmmaker. This is the only scholarship I have applied for that is disability-focused, and it makes the NYWIFT Loreen Arbus Disability Awareness Grant a much greater honor because it is rare in its focus. In addition, Michele Spitz’s generous offer to use the accessibility of the audio description is an enormous bonus. “

Both Still Judy and I Am More Than My Hair receive promotional support from the ReelAbilities Film Festival, the largest festival in the United States dedicated to promoting awareness and appreciation for the life, stories, and artistic expression of people with various disabilities .

NYWIFT will also partner with the festival for a special edition of its NYWIFT Talks series, which has been providing weekly industry updates and key information about the impact of COVID-19 on media and entertainment since March 2020. NYWIFT Talks: ReelAbilities Film Festival will be presented virtually on April 14th at 4:00 p.m. EST and will showcase the festival’s contributions to the media, the way cinemas need to restructure to comply with ADA laws how filmmakers pave their way to Hollywood with their original stories, and which ReelAbilities are investigating offers for disabled filmmakers. ReelAbilities Director and Co-Founder Isaac Zablocki and Michele Spitz of Woman of Her Word will be in discussion, hosted by Rachel Byrne, Executive Director of the Cerebral Palsy Foundation. The panel can be visited free of charge. RSVP required here.

Learn more about NYWIFT scholarships here.

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