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Films featuring the disabled come to Bend


Movie-goers got a special treat Friday night as the Tower Theatre hosted the Sprout Film Festival. Instead of typical Hollywood actors, these short films featured adults with disabilities.

The non-profit organization Sprout says it has been making the invisible visible for nearly 40 years, by creating short films featuring people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Sprout is a non-profit organization based out of New York City that provides travel and recreational opportunities to adults with such disabilities. Their mission: to educate the world about the disabled.

“There’s a lot of ignorance about people with Down syndrome, autism, Asperger’s, so film is a wonderful way of breaking down that ignorance,” said founder and Executive Director Anthony DiSalvo.

For 10 years, the Sprout Film Festival has been bringing its films to Bend.

“Most of the films are documentaries,, so there are subjects of the documentary that have autism, Down syndrome. But we also have more and more narratives where they’re actually acting,” DiSalvo said.

Sprout officials say the films help people with disabilities grow and gain confidence. They also serve to inspire their audience.

Guests seemed thoroughly entertained, with laughs and even a few tears from the audience members.

“If people see these films, it’s amazing. It touches their hearts. It opens their minds,” said Heather Hopkins-Slechta of Full Access High Desert.

The non-profit hopes the films can help break down barriers the disabled community face on a daily basis.

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