April 13, 2016

The Arc & Sprout Film Festival returns!

Entertaining. Enlightening. Inspiring.


PHOENIX – A realistic glimpse at the lives and loves, dreams and achievements of persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) – Down syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Fragile X and cerebral palsy, among others – proves there is much more to an individual than meets the eye. Nowhere is this shown better than at the 2nd Annual The Arc & Sprout Film Festival presented by The Arc of Arizona and Chandler-Gilbert Arc on Friday, April 22nd, at Pollack Tempe Cinemas.

​“On-screen depictions of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are rarely true-to-life,” says Jon Meyers, executive director of The Arc of Arizona, “mostly because the actors playing these roles rarely have I/DD themselves. And more often than not they don’t shed light on the actual life experiences of people with I/DD.”

Not so with The Arc & Sprout Film Festival.

The 2016 The Arc & Sprout Film Festival showcases almost three dozen professionally produced short films – dramas, comedies, documentaries, animation and music videos – in which every character with an intellectual or developmental disability actually is portrayed by an actor with I/DD or, in the case of documentaries, by the subject of the film him/herself. All films are drawn from the catalog of the nationally-acclaimed Sprout Film Festival, based in New York City, and are appropriate for audiences of all ages.

Just a few examples of Sprout films in this festival:
• “Think Normal”, directed by Twilight series star Nikki Reed and featured on ESPN’s “Nine for IX” documentary series, reveals the joy as well as the emotional loss felt by a mother as she watches her son with autism gain independence and notoriety following an unexpected high school athletic accomplishment.
• “Guest Room” stars Lauren Potter of the Fox television show “Glee” as a young woman with Down syndrome coming to terms with an unplanned pregnancy and its impact on her relationship with her boyfriend and family.
• “Chimes for Tyler” tells the story of a boy with autism named Tyler Doi, classified as an autistic savant, who has an exceptional skill in a very specific area: he can distinguish the sounds of the entire inventory of Woodstock Chimes – all by sound alone, without having to see the chimes.

“The Sprout Film Festival’s mission is to inspire audiences, promote inclusion and support transformative filmmaking as an integral part of social change,” states Sprout founder and director Anthony Di Salvo. “By focusing exclusively on films that celebrate the diverse lives and creativity of people with I/DD, Sprout strives to challenge assumptions and break down stereotypes, to promote greater acceptance, celebrate difference and light the spark to help make the invisible, visible.”

This year’s Festival is sponsored by Dignity Health, Isagenix, The Brake Shop, Mercy Maricopa Integrated Care, City of Chandler Mayor’s Commission for People with Disabilities, and RE/MAX Alliance Group – Denise Pias. Co-sponsors of the event include Raising Special Kids, Arizona TASH, Arizona Council on Exceptional Children (CEC), and Arizona Council of Administrators of Exceptional Children (CASE).

Festival screenings are at 9:30 a.m., 12 p.m. and 7 p.m. on April 22 and the program of films is different for each screening. Each screening is followed by an audience Q-&-A with Sprout director Anthony Di Salvo. Tickets are $5 general admission, $4 for groups of 10 or more, and $12 for a Full-Festival Pass (good for all three screenings). Pollack Tempe Cinemas is located at 1825 E. Elliott Rd., Tempe.

For more information or to purchase tickets, call The Arc of Arizona at (602) 234-2721 or visit www.arcarizona.org. To learn more about the Sprout Touring Film Festival, visit www.sprouttouringfilmfestival.org