Focus on Ability Film Festival 2017

NOVA Employment’s Focus on Ability Short Film Festival 2017 is almost upon us. It’s been called ‘the most inclusive film festival in the world’ and we love it.

Inclusive because of its theme, because it’s open to everybody, and because there are no entry fees. Plus there are so many ways you can participate: by making films, watching them online (and voting for your favourites), or organising a festival event or screening in your community.

So here’s a timely reminder: entries close on 30 June. Your film must be no longer than five minutes (not including credits) and must be about the ability of people with a disability. We’ll upload all eligible entries to the website on 25 July, and voting will then be open until 7 August.

Each year I look forward to seeing what the festival will bring.

There’s always so much to learn and to be inspired by. I see the potential of this festival as infinite: in the stories to be told, and the talent to be discovered. Every year we say it’s bigger and better than before – and it’s always true! This year we have $140,000 of prizes, thanks to our cast of generous sponsors.

When I started Focus on Ability in 2009, I never imagined it could grow so much, or become the international event that it is today. Last year we had 194 films from 18 countries. Across the years, the films have been viewed online in 168 countries and half a million votes have been cast. We hold special screenings all around the world and the exposure through television, newspapers and social media is truly phenomenal.

And of course, every year the festival culminates in our red carpet awards night.   

I’ve always known that film is a powerful communicator. These films break down barriers and change attitudes through showing such a diversity of people. They somehow reach out and unite us. This is not to say that the filmmakers aim to be ‘worthy’ or even serious. These films are as diverse as the community of people they celebrate.

My favourite review of the Focus on Ability Short Film Festival came from an audience member at a screening in New York several years ago. When asked what he thought of the films this young man said they were ‘Short, sweet and very cool’.

- Martin Wren