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Film : For Good

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Brand Old Productions, Keep Cincinnati Beautiful collaborate to launch PSA


In an imperfect world with a multitude of causes worth advocating for and working to remedy, it’s sometimes difficult for a nonprofit to relay its message in an effective and concise way — most importantly — in a way that prompts collective action.
 
That’s why Keep Cincinnati Beautiful (KCB) is doing its part to launch a new public awareness and fundraising campaign. Thanks to the talent and volunteer work of Brand Old Productions, KCB has a new public service announcement that speaks to something we all have in common — the desire to live in a neighborhood, and in a city, that’s free of blight and vacancy.
 
“In order to engage people to volunteer or donate, the message needs to be short,” said Brand Old Productions’ Sahil Sharma, who directed the PSA titled "The Philanthrop". “KCB does so much; the challenge was, ‘How do we capture it all in two minutes?’”
 
Throughout Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods, KCB’s efforts are trifold — educational outreach, urban revitalization, and its annual Great American Cleanup, which occurs every weekend from March through November.
 
The results? A decrease in crime by up to 13 percent, a decrease in blight by 15 percent, and an increase in economic development by 27 percent.
 
“You could easily do an hour documentary with all they do,” Sharma said.
 
The goal of the PSA, which premiered this past week, is to encourage individuals to do something — whether it’s spreading the word by raising awareness, volunteering, or donating money to make a difference — so we can all live in a clean, safe community that thrives.

The PSA launch comes in conjunction with a 10-day, 10 for $10 challenge in which participants are encouraged to donate at least $10 to KCB, then post a photo or video to social media, encouraging 10 friends to do the same. 
 
“It’s been a real privilege doing this for KCB because we’ve learned so much about just what it takes to keep a city clean,” Sharma said. 

Do Good: 

•    Check out "The Philanthrop," and share a link to the video with your friends. 

•    Help KCB take its 10 for $10 campaign, which runs through October 17, viral. Take a photo or video with a sign that says "I'm a 10...#KCB4US," then challenge your friends to do the same. 

•    Get a group of friends together, and participate in the Great American Cleanup
 

Raising awareness, reducing stigma surrounding mental illness in urban communities


One in five individuals is affected by mental illness, according to Gloria Walker, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ (NAMI) Urban Greater Cincinnati Network on Mental Illness.
 
“African Americans are no exception,” Walker says.
 
It wasn’t until one of Walker’s loved ones began exhibiting symptoms of what was later diagnosed as a mental illness that she says she came to understand the ways in which mental illness is addressed within the African American community.
 
“I was introduced to the Alliance for the Mentally Ill — People of Color [Support Group] of Greater Cincinnati, and through that involvement, I recognized how devastating stigma and ignorance, lack of information and hopelessness about these illnesses impacted the African American community,” Walker says. “Stigma, perpetrated by jokes people tell and the names people are called keep people from getting the help they need early when recovery outcomes are better.”
 
She went from knowing nothing, she says — researching a mental illness on her own, joining a support group and asking questions  — to running a nonprofit that’s aimed at raising awareness and providing much needed resources to the urban community so they can lead fulfilled and productive lives.
 
Oct. 2-8 is Mental Illness Awareness Week, and one way that the UGCNOMI is doing its part in raising awareness is through a partnership with ReelAbilities Cincinnati Film Festival.
 
Patrick’s Day, a love story between a man living with schizophrenia and a female flight attendant who is suicidal, will premiere at the Esquire Theatre on Oct. 6. It will be preceded by the debut of an art exhibit at Sitwell’s Coffee House, which will feature the work of those within Greater Cincinnati who are experiencing or living with someone who is experiencing the effects of mental illness.
 
Deb Pinger, director of ReelAbilities, says she’s eager to partner with the UGCNOMI and bring Patrick’s Day to the community.
 
“It’s a powerful film, and we are excited to premiere it in Cincinnati as yet another example of the stories we believe need to be shared in the community to celebrate the lives of people who experience disabilities,” Pinger says.
 
For Walker, the film premiere and art opening are ways to honor the UGCNOMI’s current campaign — “Bringing Mental Illness Out of the Shadows."
 
“People with mental illnesses are human with human feelings," she says. "They deserve respect and understanding. We hope this will get and keep the conversation going. We want people to leave wanting to learn more and feel comfortable reaching out to us for help if they need it.” 

Do Good: 

•    For more information about NAMI's Urban Greater Cincinnati Network on Mental Illness, contact 513-238-7788.

•    Check out ReelAbilities' website to learn more and to purchase tickets for Thursday's premiere screening of Patrick's Day. Tickets are also available at the door. The showing begins at 7:30 p.m., and tickets are $10.

•    Stop by Sitwell's to check out the art exhibit prior to the showing. It debuts at 5:30 p.m. and will remain on display for the next month. 
 

ReelAbilities Cincy presents creative opportunity to local filmmakers


Attention, filmmakers: the Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival is now accepting entries from local videographers — professionals and students alike —who are interested in highlighting the lives and stories of individuals with disabilities.
 
Organized by Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled, Cincinnati RAFF is now in its third year; however, it’s the first year the festival has conducted an open call for local submissions.
 
“We are so excited to open this call for entries to local filmmakers,” says Debra Pinger, director of ReelAbilities in Cincinnati. “Cincinnati and our region is home to so many artists, story tellers, musicians, actors and filmmakers, and RAFF gives them an important place to showcase their talents. It’s the creatives in our community who will help draw the world’s attention to Cincinnati as a forward-thinking, diverse and inclusive culture.”
 
Cincinnati RAFF is the region’s largest film festival aimed at exploring our differences while recognizing our shared humanity.
 
Anyone living or working within 100 miles of Cincinnati is welcome to submit an entry. Short films 40 minutes or less will be accepted, but films that are 20 minutes or less are preferred. There is no cost to enter.
 
November 1 marks the deadline for submission. Selected films will be screened March 9-12 and highlighted on Local Night, March 12, at the culmination of the festival.
 
“Local stories are at the heart of ReelAbilities because they are the catalyst for community dialogue,” says April Kerley, organizer of Local Night. “Local films are like a familiar homecoming that transforms your experience from virtual reality to reality. It's like being a tourist in your hometown and seeing people and places you recognize in a whole new light.”

Do Good: 

•    Read the Call for Entry to learn more about guidelines for submission.

•    Submit your film. The deadline is November 1.

•    Connect with ReelAbilities Cincinnati by getting involved. 
 

Stages for Youth helps teens find their voice through filmmaking program


Many creative students don’t get the chance to express themselves and their talent in a traditional classroom environment, but Frank O'Farrell wants to change that.

So he started Stages for Youth, a program that focuses on teaching kids video production. But more importantly, he's teaching them skills they'll need to know once they graduate. 

“I think the question to ask is, ‘Are we preparing our kids for the world of work after they graduate from high school and college?’" O'Farrell says. "The short answer is no, absolutely not. There isn’t an environment where they get to develop these 21st century skills, which are crucial to success in the workplace. That’s really what Stages for Youth stands for — using the film discipline to prepare our young people for the workforce, particularly in the creative economy.”

O’Farrell’s son, who is now 18, struggled in a traditional school environment. While he was intelligent and creative, he wasn’t given the opportunity to express his talent in the classroom. His frustration led to O'Farrell creating an alternative avenue for success — Stages for Youth.

During the film camp, teenagers ages 12-19 are invited to create films. There are 15 students in each of the three sessions that take place throughout the summer. Within each session, students are broken up into three groups of five. Each group comes up with an idea they are passionate about, and decides how that idea can be made into film.

And in just two weeks, O’Farrell says everything changes.

“Magic happens. They sit down as complete strangers on day one, then create teams and go through the process of ideation, debates, negotiations and collaborations. Every single time, we are blown away by them throughout the incredible process.”

O’Farrell brings in professional mentors from the industry — production teams, screenwriters, photographers, editors, animators and more. 

“One of the things we’re trying to do is provide a roadmap for these kids by showing them there are possibilities in the creative economy, and how to get there,” O’Farrell says.

That roadmap seems to be working pretty well.

Many of the films produced during the camp have received recognition. One film won an honorable mention at the White House Student Film Festival last year. Another won an $8,000 scholarship to Watkins School of Design in Nashville.

“These are real, tangible results,” O’Farrell says. “These are solid outcomes they can add to their portfolio, increase their self-esteem, and help that belief that they can be successful.” 

Even though the biggest focus is on being creative and focusing on video production, O’Farrell wants kids to take away the skills that will help them succeed in the workplace.

“Kids don’t get the opportunity to collaborate and learn communication, critical thinking, problem solving, project management and time management skills. These things have been removed from our education system. They won’t be successful in the workplace if they don’t cultivate these skills.”

Do Good:

•    Register your child for the third session of Stages for Youth's summer camp, which begins July 25. Registration is $300 per child.

•    Connect with Stages for Youth on Facebook

•    Donate to help support Stages for Youth's mission. 
 

World Music Fest returns with 50 performances celebrating art and culture


What was once an annual event has now returned for the first time since 2010, as World Music Fest takes places June 11 at a variety of venues throughout Covington. The mix of live performances, art exhibits, interactive programs and food will be a feast for the senses as festivalgoers immerse themselves in a multitude of different cultural experiences.
 
The all-day, family-friendly event is produced in partnership by Liz Wu and Renaissance Covington. Wu has assisted with marketing and fundraising since the event’s inception in 2007 and since then has taken the reigns for its successful implementation.
 
For Wu, whose cultural background is mixed — her father is from Taiwan and her mother’s ancestry is German, English and Native American — and who has traveled extensively and spent time living abroad, the festival creates an opportunity for people to enrich the lives of others in a way that she says “typically requires a plane ticket.”
 
“Having a chance to travel outside of your home country, especially if you do not speak the language, is enriching, educational and humbling,” Wu says. “The arts are a natural and universal way for people of all walks of life to come together and communicate. So much richness of experience and diversity of the world is present right here on our doorstep — and that is cause to celebrate.”
 
This year’s festival will showcase 50 performances — everything from Brazilian, French and Cajun jazz during brunch to world hip hop performances paired with a documentary screening about break dancing.
 
According to Wu, there is something for everyone to appreciate.
 
“One can orient to some degree by themes,” she says. “Everything is staggered, so a very ambitious person could potentially catch a little of everything.” 

Do Good: 

• Check out the schedule of events for Saturday's festivities.

• Are you a photographer? If so, World Music Fest is in need of volunteers to document the event. Sign up as a volunteer photographer or videographer and contact Liz Wu to confirm. 

• Spread the word and invite your friends to World Music Fest by sharing the event page on Facebook.
 

Internationally renowned photographer features local families in "ReelBeauty" program


While the ReelAbilities Film Festival won’t return to Cincinnati until March 2017, nonprofit organizer Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled (LADD) has put together a series of monthly “ReelPrograms” happenings leading up to the main event.

Intended to build anticipation for ReelAbilities, the region’s largest film festival, and also prompt dialogue about the abilities of those labeled as “disabled,” ReelPrograms will feature everything from encore screenings of past years’ award-winning films to the ReelBeauty photography exhibition that made its debut at Christ Church Cathedral last month. 

The exhibition features the work of Rick Guidotti, internationally known fashion photographer turned activist and founder of Positive Exposure, a nonprofit aiming to shift perceptions of those living with physical, genetic, intellectual or behavioral differences.

“I see beauty everywhere,” says Guidotti, who hopes to challenge viewers to “change how they see,” then “see how they change.” 

Guidotti photographed 12 local families to produce a collection of 22 photos for ReelBeauty. Rather than walking down the street and choosing to stare at someone or make eye contact then quickly look away, he says his aim in photographing those with differences is to showcase the shared humanity one can only recognize after steadying one’s gaze and looking directly into another person’s eyes. 

“There are individuals everywhere in the world that don’t want to be seen as diseased or as a diagnosis,” Guidotti says. “We all want to be seen as human beings.” 

Photos will remain on display through the end of May.

Do Good: 

• Check out ReelBeauty. at Christ Church Cathedral, 318 E. Fourth St. downtown. Gallery hours are 8:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday. 

• Mark your calendar for other upcoming ReelPrograms.

Connect with Cincinnati ReelAbilities on social media or by getting involved as a volunteer or supporter. 
 

Rain Pryor's "That Daughter's Crazy" to open 2015 Cincinnati Film Festival


The Cincinnati Film Festival begins Sept. 10 with That Daughter’s Crazy as its opener. The documentary, directed by Elzbieta Szoka, explores the life of actress and comedienne Rain Pryor, daughter of Richard Pryor, through footage, photos, press clipping and various interviews.

“This year we have another amazing line up of over 100 films from all over the world, and many from our own backyard,” says Kat Steele, director of the Cincinnati Film Festival. “We’re honored to be able to bring Rain and Daryl (Sledge, the film’s producer) here to Cincinnati for this special opening night premiere event.”

A stand-up comedy show featuring a few Queen City natives will precede the film screening. Ally Bruener, Kelly Collette, Teri Foltz, Kristen Lundberg and Ky Platt will take the stage with Pryor headlining the show.

Bruener, who hails from Alexandria, Ky., was born with muscular dystrophy and uses dark humor in her cynical bit, “I Laughed at the Crippled Girl.”

"I'm amazed by the amount of diversity, with regard to both personal backgrounds and comedic stylings, that this lineup has to offer,” Bruener says.

That Daughter's Crazy will be screened at The Carnegie in Covington at 9 p.m. Sept. 10, preceded by the comedy show at 7:30. Tickets to both the comedy show and film are $20. The VIP meet-and-greet package, which includes cocktails prior to the show and film, is $40.

The Cincinnati Film Festival recently received a micro-grant from Fuel Cincinnati to support the 2015 schedule running Sept. 10-20 at various venues.

Do Good:

Purchase your tickets to the comedy show and film screening online.

• For more information about That Daughter’s Crazy, visit the film's website.

• Check out the full schedule of film screenings on Cincinnati Film Festival’s Facebook page.  
 

Stages for Youth seeks funding to create year-round filmmaking program for teens


For Frank O’Farrell, the ways in which society traditionally measures educational success can sometimes be limiting.
 
“It sets boundaries and expectations that some kids just cannot understand or relate to,” he says.
 
O’Farrell experienced this frustration personally raising his now 17-year-old son and as a result founded Stages for Youth, whose mission is twofold: to help youth find their voice and express their individuality through digital and performance arts and to change the trajectory of their own lives, those around them and their community.
 
“I felt strongly that I just needed to give my son, and kids like him, an alternative avenue for self expression, another way to experience success,” O’Farrell says.
 
So he spent his vacation days from work planning and developing a pilot program, bringing in mentors and volunteers, hiring staff and fundraising — all for the purpose of teaching kids video production.
 
Twenty-four teenagers between the ages of 12 and 19 came together to create, shoot, edit and produce six films in five days last summer. The free film camp’s success has become apparent, as the group won an honorable mention at The White House Student Film Festival for I Am Urban Art, two Golden Lion awards and an $8,000 scholarship.
 
But the story doesn’t stop there, as O’Farrell is committed to making sure other students receive similar opportunities.
 
“The skills these kids learn through the film production discipline include creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, project management, collaboration, thinking on their feet, working against deadlines,” O’Farrell says. “These are 21st-Century skills that our young people will need in order to be successful. Employers are demanding it (but) schools are not teaching it, and the result is a ‘skills gap’ which is limiting our kids’ opportunities when they do enter the workforce.”
 
These skills don’t come naturally for all, but it’s these types of skills that do seem to be more innate in those who don’t relate to a more traditional educational setting, O’Farrell says, so he wants to build Stages for Youth into a year-round after-school program to “level the playing field” for all students.
 
“Kids will walk away with a finished project, a digital portfolio for their resume, awards, 21st-Century skills in creativity, critical thinking and problem solving, a network of industry professionals and a more clearly defined career roadmap,” he says. “And as these kids write a story for their film, they are also writing their own personal story, and that's what can change their lives.”

Do Good: 

• Help Stages for Youth expand to a year-round after-school model by donating.

• Connect with Stages for Youth on Facebook.

• Check out students' films by clicking "Summer Camp Productions" at the top of the page.
 

Cincinnati filmmakers prep for 48 Hour Film Project weekend


Novices, professionals and filmmakers of all levels in between will gather together Friday to kick off the 48 Hour Film Project (48HFP) in Cincinnati.
 
Participants will be given a genre, character, line of dialogue and prop that must be worked into each film and then have 48 hours to write, cast, shoot and edit it. The rest of the creative process comes about through teamwork, which Kat Steele, Cincinnati city producer for the 48HFP, says is an integral part of the weekend.
 
“The competition challenges filmmakers of all abilities and ages to think outside of the box in a team environment,” Steele says. “From high school students to hobbyists to full time media professionals, all are challenged by incredible time limitations to create a film.”
 
The mission of the 48HFP, which tours more than 130 cities worldwide each year, is to advance and promote filmmaking, filmmakers and teamwork.
 
All local films received by Sunday evening’s deadline will premiere June 7 at the Thompson House in Newport. An awards ceremony will be held in July when a filmmaking prize package will be awarded to winners of the area’s “best film,” which will be screened at Filmapalooza in Hollywood next March and have a shot at a screening at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.
 
While the 48HFP is certainly focused on filmmakers, it’s the community, Steele says, that plays an integral and supportive role.
 
“It’s not just filmmakers that participate,” she says. “This is a community effort, as each film can take dozens of people to make. It’s a fantastic experience for anyone who will be involved.”

Do Good: 

Register for Cincinnati’s version of the 48 Hour Film Project.

• Support local filmmakers by purchasing tickets to the 48HFP Festival June 7 at the Thompson House.

• Connect with the 48HFP on Facebook.
 

"Bipolarized" screening generates funds for local mental illness agency


Though the 2015 Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival has come to a close, impacts will be ongoing thanks to $40,000 in funding the screenings generated for 17 different partnering agencies.

One of those 17 nonprofit recipients, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Urban Greater Cincinnati, gained $2,134 in proceeds from the festival screening of Bipolarized. 
 
The documentary film details Ross McKenzie’s journey toward wellness as he explored alternative treatments for his diagnosis of bipolar disorder, for which he was told lithium — which made him feel foggy — was the only way to control his symptoms. Instead, he made the decision to view his symptoms not as detriments that required prescription drugs to level out but instead as “gifts.”
 
“That’s when my transformation began,” McKenzie says. “That’s when healers and gifted therapists came into my life, and that’s when I began to uncover the trauma.”
 
Though prescription medication is beneficial and necessary for some, McKenzie was able to invest in nontraditional practices that allowed him to engage in self discovery and ultimately physical, mental and emotional healing.
 
“During this journey, I got to the root cause of my symptoms,” he says. “It confuses people when I say I don’t have a disease or disorder, because when you’re diagnosed you have that for life.
 
“But we’re all unique individuals. There’s so many different reasons people can experience these things, and if we could come together and work together we could actually create a new reality on this earth. And this is my mission moving forward — educating about mind, body, spirit and treating the whole person. It’s hard work, but when you make that choice miracles become possible.” 

Do Good: 

• Support NAMI Urban Greater Cincinnati’s work by donating.

• If you or someone you know — family, friends, whomever — is dealing with the impacts of mental illness, contact NAMI for support.

• Encourage and support loved ones to focus on mental, physical and emotional wellness.
 

From athlete to activist, Kevin Pearce an inspiration for those with traumatic brain injury


New Year’s Eve 2009 didn't end in celebration for Kevin Pearce, who was training for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics when a cab double cork on the half-pipe ended his career as a professional snowboarder and initiated his journey of recovery from a traumatic brain injury.
 
He’s now raising awareness and funds to improve the life quality of individuals impacted by traumatic brain injury through the LoveYourBrain Foundation.
 
When Pearce was severely injured, he says he’d been concussed a week and a half prior but was ultimately able to continue snowboarding with symptoms unnoticeable to those watching.
 
“My brain was not healed, and I was not in any kind of form to get that kind of hit to my head,” Pearce says.
 
But when he did, his life changed forever. He spent nearly the entire month of January 2010 on a critical care unit, and his future quality of life was unknown.
 
“They tell me I would have died without a helmet on,” Pearce says — one reason why he now travels the country as a motivational speaker encouraging others to take care of and love their brains.
 
There’s more to be done than practice physical safety habits, though.
 
“Loving your brain can be very healing. What is so bad, so damaging for us, is to have the ANTs, so what I ask all of you to do is kill the ANTs — automatic, negative thoughts — that come into our head, and that’s what is so damaging to us,” says Pearce, who experienced “ANTs” as he went from a top-notch snowboarder to realizing that his career was over and that his brain simply didn’t function the way that it did prior to his injury.
 
“I spent a lot of time rehabbing and a lot of time recovering,” Pearce says. “I’m getting back to this life I lived before that — and in no way is it the same — but there are some very cool important things. Maybe I do have some differences. Maybe I don’t remember where I parked my car. I struggle with a lot of things on a daily basis, but I don’t allow them into my brain.

“I look at everything going so great and everything I have, and I try to build on that instead of feeling bad about myself. Look at all these amazing people. We’re so lucky we’re able to be here.” 

Do Good: 

• Support organizations like Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled (LADD), a nonprofit that "facilitates the education of adults with disabilities to realize their aspirations." LADD, which presented the 2015 Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival, hosted Pearce after the screening of Crash Reel, a documentary film detailing his crash and recovery that generated more than $1,200 for the nonprofit.

Get involved with the LoveYourBrain Foundation by starting a fundraising campaign.

• Protect your brain by wearing a helmet. Rest your brain. Kill the ANTs.
 

ReelAbilities Film Festival kicks off Friday with "Meet the Stars" event


When Kathleen Cail watched her daughter excel in her first-ever live theater performance of Fiddler on the Roof this past weekend, she felt a sense of pride and an immediate recognition of the ability her daughter possessed.

Cail’s daughter has a form of Muscular Dystrophy called Myotonic Dystrophy, “but that does not define who she is as a person,” Cail says.

As chair for the Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival, Cail is accustomed to seeing individuals from diverse backgrounds come together to celebrate and explore their differences while recognizing the shared humanity we all possess.

Her daughter’s school musical was a precursor to the excitement Cail will soon get to share with so many others, as Cincy ReelAbilities kicks off Friday morning with its Meet the Stars event, which is free and open to the public.

“It is fantastic to see celebrities from across our country who want to be a part of what we are doing here in Cincinnati,” Cail says. “They are talking about us and the great work we are doing to celebrate our diversity.”

Stars include Academy Award-winner Marlee Matlin, Seinfeld and Bones’ Danny Woodburn and Sons of Anarchy’s Kurt Yaeger, among others.

“We want everyone to see our Greater Cincinnati region as a place that welcomes everyone, where people want to come, stay, work and raise a family,” Cail says.

Twenty film screenings will occur throughout the community from Feb. 27 to March 7 — including Wampler's Ascent, previewed here — with 2,500 individuals expected to attend. For Cail, it’s an opportunity for the Greater Cincinnati community to develop dialogue while educating and celebrating ourselves and others.

“The fact that Cincinnati and a local nonprofit, Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled (LADD), host the national ReelAbilities program and that our festival is one of the largest in the nation is so fitting,” Cail says. “We really are an accepting and diverse community, and our community is truly so connected. The nonprofit, academic and business communities have really united around this festival, and that makes sense — this city supports its arts — and because we are so supportive of each other, we are able to unite so many sectors of our region behind this.”
 
Do Good:

Attend the ReelAbilities’ Meet the Stars event 9:30 a.m. Friday,  Feb. 27, at the Hyatt Regency Cincinnati downtown.
 
• Check out the films and events and purchase tickets here.
 
• Support Cincy ReelAbilities by donating.
 

Cincy ReelAbilities to showcase individuals, films that inspire


When Stephen Wampler was 42, he completed the 7,569-foot vertical climb to the top of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.
 
Wampler has cerebral palsy and used his upper body strength and sheer will power to complete the six-day climb in an effort to show children with physical disabilities that they're capable of anything.
 
“In 2002, I had this nagging urge to give back to kids that needed the same experience I had as a child,” Wampler says.
 
So he founded the Wampler Foundation to enable other children to attend wilderness camps, which he says were “life changing” experiences for him as a child.
 
“To get them away from their mom and dad for the first time and to watch them experience the first day and realize, ‘Wow, I’m really out of my comfort zone, I’m really out there,’ changes them forever,” Wampler says. “They experience something that they never thought was possible.”
 
The foundation was at a crossroad in terms of growth in 2008, however, so Wampler wanted to do something big — he chose El Capitan. 
 
“That was my first real climb in my entire life,” Wampler says. “You go from euphoria to sadness to being really, really mad and irritated to happy to wondering why I was there. Every emotion goes through your brain all the time, and it was just really exhausting.”
 
But it was worth it, Wampler says, as his foundation has become more recognized, enabling more children to be inspired and attend camp.
 
It’s these inspiring stories that will be showcased on the big screen at the 2015 Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival.
 
Wampler, among other notable individuals like Oscar and Golden Globe winning actress Marlee Matlin, will be in attendance for the region’s largest film festival, which is organized by Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled and benefits local nonprofits.
 
Wampler’s Ascent, which draws viewers in to his drive to inspire and show others that nothing is impossible, will be shown March 4 and followed up with a question-and-answer session.
 
“Racing down the stereotype is the bigger picture of why I did it,” Wampler says. “And I think that once people get to know other people, that barrier comes down for them.”

Do Good:

•    Purchase tickets to view Wampler's Ascent on March 4.

•   Check out trailers for other films to be showcased at the festival Feb. 27-March 7 and purchase tickets.   

•    If you're interested in getting involved, sign up to volunteer at the festival.
 

LADD, ReelPrograms to host award-winning photographer in preparation for ReelAbilities

World renowned former fashion photographer Rick Guidotti founded Positive Exposure in 1998 after he made it his mission to help others change the ways in which they see things, so in turn, they could begin to see change.
 
“As a fashion photographer, I was always told constantly who’s beautiful—who the model of the moment was—so I always stayed within those parameters of what was a restrictive beauty standard, and I was always told it was beautiful,” Guidotti says. “And as an artist, I don’t see beauty just on the covers of magazines. I see beauty everywhere.”
 
It was after leaving his studio that Guidotti says he saw a girl with albinism who was “just beautiful.” He had never met a model who looked like her, he says, so he began to research individuals with albinism to see what he could find.
 
“I found nothing but horrible images—kids in their underwear up against walls in doctors’ offices, images of just disease, sickness—I didn’t see any photographs of this gorgeous kid,” Guidotti says. “And it’s always ‘the evil albino’ that we see depicted in movies, in Hollywood—every representation I could find was a negative. And it was so upsetting and so eye opening.”
 
So Guidotti partnered with the National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation to make something beautiful and show the world something different, he says.
 
“So this girl walks in the room and she was amazing—she was so beautiful, but she walked in with her shoulders all the way up, no eye contact—she had zero self esteem, and I can only imagine the abuse she had in school, the teasing” Guidotti says.
 
“I didn’t know what to do—she was so vulnerable—but just the day before, I had photographed Cindy Crawford, and I said out of respect for her, ‘I’m going to photograph her like I’d photograph anyone else,’ so the fan went on, the music went on, and I took a mirror and said, ‘Christine, look at you—you’re magnificent—and she looked in the mirror and she saw it. Her hands went on her hips, and she exploded with the smile that lit up New York City. It was incredible.”
 
It’s this beauty that Guidotti sees because of the shared humanity we all possess, he says, and it’s what’s inspired him to shift his lens from fashion photography to individuals who are portrayed as being diseased or disabled, but who are nothing short of amazing.
 
And that’s the clientele that Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled works with everyday on the local level, as well as the mission of the ReelAbilities Film Festival, which the organization will present Feb. 27-March 7.
 
As part of the organization’s ReelPrograms leading up to the festival, Guidotti will speak to local schools, share his story, exhibit Positive Exposure, The Spirit of Difference at FotoFocus, and photograph local families with physical and mental disabilities to add to his collection, which will be displayed during ReelAbilities.
 
“It’s inclusion, and it’s happening concurrently, but it’s individuals everywhere in the world that don’t want to be seen as diseased or as a diagnosis,” Guidotti says. “We all want to be seen as human beings.” 

Do Good:

•    Hear Guidotti's story, and check out his work, as well as other events taking place through ReelProgram events. This Cincinnati tour of Rich Guidotti is presented by the Edwards Foundation managed by Crew Capital with support from Contemporary Cabinetry East.

•    Support Cincinnati ReelAbilities by donating.

•    Spread the word about ReelAbilities and all of the events coming up by volunteering.
 

Historic Cincinnati photos show city's progress throughout the past century

Treasures in Black & White, a new exhibit at the Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC), is a collection of photographs and artifacts from Cincinnati dating back to the 1860s. Scott Gampfer, director of the CMC’s History Library and Archives, was instrumental in putting the exhibit together.

“The exhibit provides a glimpse into a century of the life of Cincinnati,” Gampfer says. “Visitors will see through the images how much the city has changed, and how many things have remained constant. For example, although electric cars are seen as cutting-edge technology today, the exhibit features a photograph of a woman charging up her electric car in 1912.”

“The photographs in the exhibit are augmented by display cases containing historic artifacts and archival materials that relate to specific images in the exhibit. These objects and archival materials help bring the photographs to life,” Gampfer says. “The images depict the city’s changing built environment, sports, entertainment, business, social activities, daily life, lighthearted moments and some difficult moments in the life of the city.”

What’s Gampfer’s favorite photo in the exhibit?

“One of my favorites is the image of the “balloon man” selling a balloon to a young client outside of Redland Field in 1929 while a police officer watches over the transaction," he says. "It’s whimsical, yet is a compelling atmospheric street shot from the 1920s. The photo doesn’t actually show Redland Field, which is behind the photographer, but the exhibit includes a nearby case with various artifacts and archival materials relating to the ballpark.”

Gampfer says the exhibit concept is based on a book project that CMC did along with Turner Publishing in 2006 titled “Historic Photographs of Cincinnati.” It featured more than 200 black and white images from the CMC collection. Re-released in 2013, the idea of basing the 2014 Treasures Exhibit on the images selected for that book was sparked.

“The exhibit curatorial team selected 65 images from the 200 in the book and tried to maintain the book’s diversity of subject matter and time periods,” Gampfer says. “High-resolution digital scans were made of the original source photos from the collection, and from these scans, high-quality black and white 16-by-20-inch prints were made. The prints were then matted and framed.”

July 28 marks the 100-year anniversary of Austria-Hungary’s declaration of war against Serbia, which effectively started World War I. With “the war to end all wars” on the world’s mind, it's fascinating to see authentic Cincinnati relics from the homefront at that time.

Treasures in Black & White runs at the Cincinnati Museum Center until October 12.
 
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