Vinfen held our 13th Annual Moving Images Film Festival, Without Judgment, on Saturday, February 29 at the Joseph B. Martin Conference Center at Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA.
The festival used the power of film to raise awareness, educate our community, and fight prejudice and discrimination often faced by people with disabilities. Far too often, we see stigma and marginalization of people with mental health conditions, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and behavioral health challenges in our society.
Over 500 people we serve, staff, family members, advocates, self-advocates, community supporters, and professionals attended to view the five powerful films and three panel discussions.
The morning began with The Public, which was followed by a panel discussion led by Vinfen Safe Haven Operations Director William Buckley. Panelists included Massachusetts Department of Mental Health Director of the Metro Boston Homeless Outreach Team Janet Marsden, Pine Street Inn and Boston Public Library Outreach Clinician Shiva Kuczinski, and Vinfen Certified Peer Specialist Jerry Koch.
The Public was a crowd favorite. “How could what we just saw not happen in the city of Boston?” Will inquired. A discussion on homelessness and the use of public libraries as a resource of survival soon unfolded. Shiva voiced, “Unlike in the movie, Boston has a lot of resources. Just being at the library is a resource for a lot of people that come there.” Janet added, “If everyone had an option to be inside they would.”
At the conclusion of the first film and panel discussion, guests were treated to a delicious boxed lunch. Opportunities to converse and network were plentiful with so many community members united by their enjoyment of the Film Festival.
The next film on deck was This Is My Brave. Vinfen Assistant Medical Director Dr. Alicia Powell moderated the panel discussion featuring Founder and Executive Director of This Is My Brave Jennifer Marshall, Founder/Editor of Oddball Magazine Jason Wright, Yoga and Meditation Instructor Kasey Maher, and Full Spectrum Doula and Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Advocate Nneka Hall. “For me, personally, this changed my life,” Jason shared. Jason inspired many with his poetry he wrote on being diagnosed with mental illness and his journey of recovery. Several of Jason’s poetry publications were available for purchase in the lobby throughout the day.
After a brief coffee break, the festival concluded with three powerful films, which included The Mighty’s Living With High-Functioning Anxiety, TEDx talk I Am Not A Monster: Schizophrenia, and feature film INTELLIGENT LIVES. Vinfen Director of Learning and Development Katherine Fox led the final panel discussion as moderator. Panelists included the star of I Am Not A Monster: Schizophrenia and Founder and Executive Director of Students with Psychosis Cecilia McGough, star of INTELLIGENT LIVES and self-advocate, teaching assistant, outreach coordinator, and national speaker Micah Fialka-Feldman, Boston Public Schools Elementary Educator Emma Fialka-Feldman, and instructor of staff who work with adults with disabilities Jack Yates. Micah and Emma’s family book What Matters: Reflections on Disability, Community & Love, which shares more on Micah’s incredible story was also available for purchase at the end of the final panel.