Film Festival

First disability film festival in Canada underway in Halifax

With over 2,000 applications from around the world, the BAFF organizers are already looking at ways to expand for next year

Tova Sherman, CEO and co-founder of reachAbility speaks at the BAFF launch.
Tova Sherman, CEO and co-founder of reachAbility speaks at the BAFF launch.   Stefanie Davis

Canada’s first disability film festival for youth and adults is underway in Halifax.

The Bluenose-Ability Film Festival (BAFF), presented by reachAbility, launched on Thursday and runs until Saturday.

ReachAbility is an organization dedicated to empowering people and community through a fair, equal and inclusive environment.

The festival is the first of its kind, showcasing a variety of films themed around or made by those living with disability.

“We’re very grateful for this opportunity,” said Dr. Bruce Mills, the co-founder and president of reachAbility. “The stories are so personal – these people’s lives become movies.”

The festival has four main categories: regional short film separated into adult and youth age brackets, and international short film separated the same way.

Terry Carpenter is the festival’s event coordinator. He said they received over 2,000 applications from around the world. He said they received a low number of Canadian applications, so most came internationally.

“We want to educate filmmakers on disability culture and encourage youth to make films,” said Carpenter.

He said they hope to see more local filmmakers to participate next year.

The weekend involves workshops, presentations and film viewings of the finalists’ work. The full schedule can be seen on the BAFF website.

Winners and award recipients are announced on Saturday from 7-9 p.m. at the Peggy Corkum Music Room. A panel of judges will determine the results.The regional youth winners have already been announced.

The future of the festival

Carpenter said they’re already looking at ways to grow the festival for next year, so more people’s work can be included and rewarded.

“We want to encourage more youth and production companies to educate and entertain,” he said. “So we’re looking at where we can expand.”

Carpenter said this includes more categories and more workshops taught by professionals.

Tova Sherman, the co-founder and CEO of reachAbility, echoed similar plans.

“Next year is not only going to be about growing the festival, but making sure we touch on every subject, even if it’s dark,” she said.

Sherman also said that BAFF is not just a three-day event.

“It’s a year round commitment for those who don’t get to express themselves otherwise,” she said.