Cross-Post: Interview with Superfest Coordinator Emily Smith Beitiks (Superfest: International Disability Film Festival)

Associate Director Emily Beitiks talks about Superfest in an interview with Matthew Toffolo  for

Superfest: International Disability Film Festival is a showcase of juried films held in the San Francisco Bay Area. For nearly 30 years, this annual competition has celebrated cutting-edge cinema that portrays disability in all its diverse, complex, and empowering facets. We are proud to be the longest running disability film festival in the world.

Interview with Emily Smith Beitiks:

Matthew Toffolo: What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

Emily Smith Beitiks: Superfest provides an opportunity for filmmakers to tell stories about disability that are more nuanced and complex than what we typically see in Hollywood, unfortunately. We celebrate the work of filmmakers with disability and explore how the insights of living with a disability enrich their work. In addition, we work closely with our filmmakers to help them get their films audio described and captioned. Even though the films are about disability, many filmmakers have never considered the importance of making films accessible to people with disabilities. We coach them on how they can go about this, as it is a mandatory requirement for all films that screen at our festival.

MT: What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2016)?

EMB: Our 2016 attendees will experience some exceptional films that will push our audiences to reconsider what they know about disability and disabled people worldwide, but there’s much more to Superfest than just watching the films. We deliberately choose to limit our festival to a weekend so that it can serve as a more unified cultural event. From our hilarious emcee Nina G (the world’s best female, stuttering comedian) to our rich panels with filmmakers to our event party, Superfest allows our attendees to come together as a community to celebrate how disability enriches the arts. This year is the 30th anniversary of our festival, so we’re working even harder to make this our best year yet.

MT: What are the qualifications for the selected films?

EMB: Most importantly, we seek films that avoid the common but problematic tropes of disability. For example, we’re looking for films that neither patronize nor deify people with disabilities, that avoid stereotypes to go beyond disabled people as victims or villains. We get a lot of submissions that the disability community calls “inspiration porn.” These films look at the stories of individual disabled people while they do things like climbing Mt Everest or biking across continents to show what they can do in spite of their disabilities, never addressing the discrimination people with disabilities face nor questioning why a disabled person should have to do such herculean tasks in order to prove their social worth. Those get rejected real fast.

Read the rest of the interview on Festival Reviews here....