Film Festival to Provide Unique Employment Initiative for the Blind

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND — November 13th, 2020: How are filmmakers, who are blind and meeting in Sedona Arizona and Baltimore Maryland, helping to equalize the above 70 percent unemployment rate among the blind?

 

“The blindDANCE Film Festival is raising awareness of the strengths and capabilities of people who are blind, by normalizing the tools we use to find success at work, ”  says CoFounder and former Sundance Filmmaker Ben Fox, who is legally blind due to Retinitis Pigmentosa and detached retinas in both of his eyes. 

 

blindDANCE is arriving year one,  with some impressive partnerships bringing technology and accessibility to any filmmaker who has a desire to share their story, and a very cool place to show them this summer (on screens in Sedona, AZ), in addition to two rounds of online competitions and a final festival just before Thanksgiving in Charm City, Baltimore!

 

One blindDANCE produced film, “BLIND, IN LOVE, Living Sedona” has already gotten the attention of more than one well-established film festival, specifically The 27th Annual Sedona International Annual Film Festival.  Upon viewing several blindDANCE films, Executive Director, Patrick Schweiss invited blindDANCE to organize 8 hours of programming, featuring an entire day from filmmakers who are blind in the Sedona Center for the Performing Arts, which will be titled for the day: “THE blindDANCE Theatre” Sunday, June 13. 

 

During the festival, two very interesting things will happen in Sedona for the blindness community, in addition to the films:

  1. blindDANCE is honored to feature a special event, featuring AFB President Kirk Adams who will be in attendance. bringing with him, an original 1954 Oscar that belonged to an original AFB Ambassador, Hellen Keller (in addition to a number of her personal belongings on display). A blindDANCE film festival category was created to honor this partnership and Hellen Keller, open for short films that include a Hellen Keller Quote (this single category of competition is also open to people with eyesight, in an effort to raise awareness). This event will feature films related to the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), in celebration of their 100 year anniversary. 

 

  1. Festival goers who are blind in Sedona will have the entire city made accessible (any sign, any menu, any rock formation where data can reach) by donated services of blindDANCE title sponsor Aira, which delivers instant access to visual information at the touch of a button – by pairing individuals with sight-loss with highly trained agents (who view the camera feed through the client’s smartphone and describe ANYTHING AT ALL). 

 

Aira has also donated a pool of 10,000 Aira minutes to be given as scholarships to blindDANCE filmmakers, in addition they will award a paid contract to one blindDANCE award winner to make their next online commercial. 

 

The categories of the festival are focused on succeeding without sight, while thriving in life, and especially at work. Organizers say it is their hope that employers take note of the work ethic of blindDANCE Film Makers, and the tools they use to make their films. 

 

Prizes for outstanding films include cash, trips to film workshops, cool cutting-edge technology, and (perhaps top of the list) several paid positions or projects (with blindDANCE Studios) in the movie business.

 

“I was among the first year’s eight  teens to have a film in Sundance’s Gen-Y Theatre, but then doctors tell me a few months later… to prepare for the real possibility of eventual blindness,” says Fox. “My heart broke. I erased Hollywood from the five-year plan and penciled in preparations to go blind.”

 

Fox says at that time, he simply didn’t understand someone could have vision for filmmaking and succeed without sight. Which is why, he says, blindDANCE is highlighting and respectfully mirroring the same motto as the American Foundation for the Blind: ‘no limits’ for the blind. 

 

“If you have a story about succeeding without sight, five minutes and a cellphone, you can be a filmmaker. Please join our filmmaking workshops because you will have so much fun, and can win big prizes,” says Bari Azman, Chairman of the Board, for the parent organization of blindDANCE, the Lannie D. Chesapeake Lighthouse. 

 

How does blindDANCE help filmmakers who are blind? 

Those who are blind and new to filmmaking, can start with the monthly filmmaking workshops (sponsored by Aira and blindDANCE Studios). 

 

“Students will learn the fundamentals of storytelling, the positions on a film-crew and what those roles entail. We will hear from actual industry professionals who ARE working while blind right now,” says Fox.

 

blindDANCE Studios is currently in production with three full-length documentary film projects, sharing the stories of change makers and influencers who are blind. 

 

Filmmakers may enter to win the "Five Minute Thrive” story contest right away by submitting videos to the blindDANCE Film Festival Facebook page. 

 

Share how you succeed without sight at life and or at work. A number of winners will win an all-expenses paid trip to one of three, filmmaking workshops in 2021, located in Sedona (AZ), Baltimore (MD) or join us on the beach of Rocky Point Mexico this September.

 

Visit www.blindDANCE.org for details on these contests and submission timelines and details. Workshops last 5 days, action packed, full of fun, learning and good food, as we film video to share with the world. Number of scholarships determined by donations. 

 

For inquiries about blindDANCE Studios or the working with the Working While Blind film crew: email: bFOX@blindDANCE.org