By Pat Loeb
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A film festival dedicated to portrayals of people with disabilities opened in Philadelphia Sunday evening and continues through the week. The festival features six films, along with guest speakers, panel discussions and educational programs.
Ocean Heaven — the festival opener– is a Chinese film about an aging father trying to teach his autistic son how to survive after he is gone. It’s a theme that resonates with author Rachel Simon.
“In every family that has disability in the family, that’s the big worry,” Simon said. “Most of the rest of the world doesn’t even realize, this is a profound problem.”
Simon has done her own part to raise awareness of such issues with her best-selling memoir, Riding the Bus with My Sister, and she lent her support to the film festival, leading a post-film discussion.
But Jeffrey Harris of the Saul Shottenstein Foundation, which brings the festival to cities around the country, says it’s not just about issues.
“We really believe in sort of the common human spirit,” Harris said. “These are actually very uplifting films because you see the beauty of the human spirit.
Events are scheduled throughout the area, through next Sunday.