Film for all

The Bluenose-Abil­ity Film Fes­ti­val en­ters its third year with the goal to build out a cul­ture that in­cludes ev­ery­one.


The Bluenose-Abil­ity Film Fes­ti­val kicks off its third year tonight, and in that time has re­mained the “only film fes­ti­val with a fo­cus on dis­abil­ity and men­tal health,” notes fes­ti­val direc­tor Sarah Mar­shall. “We’re the flag­ship fes­ti­val for that in Canada, and we want to help build this dis­abil­ity cul­ture around the com­mu­nity.”

Head­quar­tered at the Cen­tral Li­brary from Thurs­day to Sun­day (there are a few events else­where), the fes­ti­val fea­tures doc­u­men­taries and shorts, a work­shop and a panel, and a big awards show Satur­day night. Ev­ery sin­gle bit of it is free.

“That’s been our mis­sion from the be­gin­ning,” says Mar­shall. BAFF is pro­duced by the char­ity reach-Abil­ity, a work­place ser­vice or­ga­ni­za­tion for those with dis­abil­i­ties. “With other events in Hal­i­fax there’s a ticket price—$10 or $15 is not a lot to some peo­ple, but it is to some­one else,” she says. “You can’t say you’re be­ing 100 per­cent in­clu­sive if you’re fil­ter­ing out peo­ple in cer­tain eco­nomic sit­u­a­tions.” She adds that the lack of price tag should not be seen as an in­di­ca­tor of the qual­ity of the event. “Just be­cause it’s free,” she says, “doesn’t mean it was thrown to­gether.” The fes­ti­val opens tonight with Best and

Most Beau­ti­ful Things, a doc­u­men­tary about a legally blind woman on the autism spec­trum ex­plor­ing on­line fetish com­mu­ni­ties. There’s also an LGBTQ+ screen­ing and and a se­lec­tion of in­ter­na­tional shorts, both on Satur­day af­ter­noon. The lineup cov­ers a wide range of top­ics sur­round­ing phys­i­cal and men­tal dis­abil­i­ties. “We got film sub­mis­sions from 80 dif­fer­ent coun­tries,” says Mar­shall.

Mar­shall hopes to con­tinue to ex­pand the pro­gram­ming at Bluenose-Abil­ity, and that the rest of the coun­try will catch on (“hav­ing all this arts and cul­ture stuff is lost if you can’t in­clude ev­ery­body,” she notes). “Each year our fes­ti­val gets big­ger and bet­ter,” says Mar­shall. “Our goal is to ul­ti­mately con­tinue pro­vid­ing free events, mak­ing them big­ger and more spe­cial.”

The doc Best and Most Beau­ti­ful Things kicks off BAFF Thurs­day.

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