Home #Hwoodtimes And The Winner Is: Easterseals Disability Film Challenge

And The Winner Is: Easterseals Disability Film Challenge

 By Valerie Milano

(L-R) Patrika Darbo, Adam Karwowski, Diana Elizabeth Jordan, Sophia Morales, Sawsan Zakaria, John Lawson, Jennifer Montzingo, Anthony Purnell, Melanie Rivera Waldman, Cassidy Huff, Nicole Evans, BJ Lange, Nic Novicki, Jeremy Jeffers, Peter Farrelly, Tal Anderson, Regina Saldivar, guest, Natalie Trevonne, Becca David, Marie Alyse Rodriguez, Jongman Kim, Rick Glassman, Sommer Carbuccia, Blake Stadnik, and Sue Ann Pien (Photo: Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for Easterseals) GETTY IMAGES FOR EASTERSEALS

Culver City, CA (The Hollywood Times) 5/5/23 – Indeed a night to remember, the 10th anniversary of the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge took place on May 4th, 2023, at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City whether the WGA picketers were on the streets or not.  The event was presented by Comcast and NBC Universal. For 10 years, the film challenge has pioneered in creating a platform for differently abled writers, directors, actors, and supporters of their stories to be showcased in mainstream media. Where Hollywood was deficient, Nic Novicki stepped up to the plate to provide a space for resources and access for differently abled creatives.

John Lawson was injured in an electrical accident painting an above ground water storage tank that resulted in 30 percent burns to his body and amputations of both hands. (Photo: THT)
Intel’s David Hack, daughter Actress Arabella Hack and wife/mother at Cary Grant Theatre

Creators and sponsors alike graced the orange carpet on Thursday evening. Sponsor of the EDFC, director Intel’s David Hack has been proud to invest in such an illuminating entity and speaks to the power of providing resources to creatives with disabilities. He states, “Easterseals is something we have been contributing to for a number of years- this year I believe there was a [huge surplus] of submissions. We wanted to empower them with technology because they do not have all the time in the world. It was extremely important to figure out how to give them the tools and make it easier for them to submit their work and create their work.”  He also told THT on the side with his adorable disabled daughter and wife on his arm that when he came with his daughter last year, she was happy to say, “Look Dad, I am not the only one who is disabled”.

‘Rain in My Head’ LGBTQ subject matter Triple Winner

From 5 submissions in its first year to over 600 submissions over time, the reception of the EDFC has been truly awe-inspiring. This year, the film challenge had over 100 submissions following the theme, Romance. Some of the winners of the highly anticipated film challenge were:

Best Director – Chrissy Marshall for Rain in My Head
Best Awareness campaign – Judith Rubin for Leap of Love
Best Editor – Nathan Cox for Smash or Pass
Best Actor – Layne Apffel for Rain in My Head
Best Writer – Rachel Handler for Unlucky in Love
Best Film – Chrissy Marshall for Rain in My Head

Cary Grant Theatre

A huge congratulations to all the participants, nominees, and winners!

There is no doubt that the trailblazing advocation for creatives with disabilities happening with the Easterseals Film Challenge is not only producing a great deal of representation, it also illustrates the beauty that can exist when marginalized individuals are granted the infrastructure to create the reality that is desperately needed. Founder Nic Noviki celebrates, “This is 10 years of impact and inclusion. 10 years ago, I was looking around and I said to myself, ‘Why aren’t there more people with disabilities taking their careers into their own hands?’ I came up with the Disability Film Challenge, and honestly, I thought it was going to be a 1-off competition to help friends, and it grew, year after year, more films! That first year we had 5 [submissions], and to date, we’ve had over 600 films, this year 115 films from around the world and we’re going to find out tonight, live, who the winners are at Sony Pictures Studios. It’s really a major milestone in not only the life of the film challenge but, to be honest, in my life. This is 10 years of watching people grow in their careers as actors, as directors, as producers. It’s a competition so it’s tough, but in many senses, it’s like a family and I love the fact that I am seeing the work come into fruition.”

The Easterseals Disability Film Challenge is made possible by the generous support of: Adobe, Dell Technologies, Golden Globe Awards, IMDb, Intel, Microsoft Teams, NBCUniversal, Netflix, Paramount, Prime VideoSAG-AFTRASony Pictures Entertainment and Warner Bros. Discovery.