UCF alumna and filmmaker Jenni Gold, who just signed a deal with Regal Cinemas to release her film “CinemAbility” in theaters later this year, will present a free screening at UCF on Friday, March 27.
The documentary looks at how films and television shows have portrayed disabilities through the years, and how media and popular culture have affected attitudes toward people who are different. It was a story she wanted to tell – with the help of actors Ben Affleck, Jamie Foxx, Gary Sinise, Jane Seymour and others – because of her muscular dystrophy.
The film business is a moving target, said Gold, which may make it a little harder for someone using a wheelchair – but the 1992 graduate who now lives in Los Angeles has persisted in the industry and is releasing her newest film this year to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The film has been shown at some festivals and specialty screenings, but the Regal deal will offer a wider distribution.
Gold said her membership in the Directors Guild of America helped give her access to the actors and actresses, many of whom have disabilities or portrayed characters with disabilities.
“It’s interesting to see celebrities talk as themselves, and we’ve got a lot of big names,” she said.
Gold said her film looks at the evolution of “disability” and shows examples from movies and TV programs such as “Forrest Gump,” “Edward Scissorhands” and “Game of Thrones.”
The movie also shows that many stereotypes remain in the industry, but the message is to push forward to reach your dreams, she said, adding that there are new roles and opportunities on both sides of the camera these days.
Gold said her time at UCF was well spent because of the variety of experiences students have to master – writing, directing, finding locations, and other facets of the industry.
“What UCF film school teaches is perseverance, the ability to go and do things on your own,” said Gold, who drove cross-country to attend this week’s showing. “At UCF, everyone has a chance to do their own film, unlike at USC where they select a film for you to do. At UCF you learn how to produce. It widens your skillset. You need to know every aspect to be successful.”
The advice she gives to film students now is to also hone their craft by watching old great movies.
“I won’t hire an intern if they don’t know their film history,” she said. “You have to have seen Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart and know how the film business started and where it’s going.”
The “CinemAbility” screening at UCF will be 5 p.m. Friday, March 27, in the Visual Arts Building hosted by UCF and the Global Peace Film Festival. There will be a meet and greet with Gold before the closed captioned movie, and a Q&A afterward.
UCF’s Student Disability Services will provide a sign interpreter for the Q&A, and students from associate professor of film Lisa Mills’ class will tape the Q&A for anyone who may want a copy.
For more information about “CinemAbility,” go to the film’s website: http://www.cinemability.com.