Short Films About Disabilities

Different Choices 2021 is proud to present a selection of films about disabilities by disabled filmmakers from the Astoria Film Festival.

Visit the Festival’s playlist on YouTube for interviews with the filmmakers.

Astoria Film Festival Inc., in Astoria NY, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that produces a main festival, a Youth Festival, and a Horror Festival. Astoria also runs film and media education and outreach programs year-round, and is especially interested in storytelling by groups that are under-represented in mainstream media, including Disabled people, PoC, First-Gen/Immigrants, Indigenous people, and LGBTQ+.  

Visit their website at astoriafilmfestival.org.


Communication First is a national, disability-led, nonprofit organization dedicated to defending, protecting, and advancing the civil rights of the more than 5 million people in the United States who find it difficult to communicate using speech. 

Tauna Szymanski is the Founder and Executive Director of Communication First, and Jordyn Zimmerman is a graduate student of education at Boston College studying Curriculum and Instruction. Before graduate school, she interned at the National Disability Rights Network and completed her bachelor’s degree in Education Policy at Ohio University, where she founded an inclusive collegiate cheer team called the Ohio University Sparkles. As a nonspeaking autistic student who was denied access to effective augmentative communication until she was 18, Ms. Zimmerman has personal experience challenging the educational status quo. 

Technology helped open Ms. Zimmerman's world and, in 2014, she began advocating for students through a series of national and global speaking engagements. She has keynoted conferences, written blogs for companies in Amsterdam, and been featured by educators in Singapore. An avid typist and advocate for all students, Ms. Zimmerman is passionate about ensuring every student is able to access effective communication and exercise their right to a truly inclusive education.

Jordyn’s website is www.JordynZimmerman.com and she can be followed on Twitter at @Jordynbzim. She communicates most effectively by typing.


Communication First: Jordyn Zimmerman & Tauna Szymanski

Documentary Short, USA


A short film made by and with non-speaking autistic people, to explain to the world that having trouble with speaking does NOT accurately reflect on one’s ability to think and experience everything in the world.

Kylie (she/her) is a recent graduate of Syracuse University’s School of Education ('20), now working toward a Masters in Education at Boston College ('22). With no prior experience or filmmaking education, she produced and edited "And They Were Roommates" independently, referring to educational practices, other documentaries, and YouTube editing tutorials to guide the creative process. During production, Kylie was a third-year undergraduate student and Residential Mentor for Olivia Baist. Kylie enjoys running, studying educational practices and has a newfound love for film. 

And They Were Roommates: Navigating Inclusive Mentorship in Higher Education

Kylie Walter

Feature Film, USA  38:39 min 

“And They Were Roommates” focuses on a pair of college roommates. Both new to their roles in Syracuse University’s Inclusive University (InclusiveU) Residential Program, they discover that inclusive peer mentorship and friendship at the college level comes with a unique set of challenges, successes and emotions.

Throughout the academic year, their vlogs expose the realities of inclusive mentorship from a student perspective. Interviews with eleven of their peers, fulfilling roles as both inclusive mentees and mentors, adds multiple perspectives to the inclusive college story.

Teresa Garratty is a deaf filmmaker and photographer, as well as a self-described ‘full-time cynic’. She has written and directed three short films that were shot with a deaf cast and crew: The Quiet Ones (2015), which was funded as the winner of Deaffest’s Ben Steiner Bursary; Admit None (2011); and Almost (2019). The latter two are featured on BSL Zone. 

What If?

Teresa Garratty

Comedy Short, UK

After a bad break-up, Jess focuses on rebuilding her life and her self esteem. Dating someone new might help, but what if it all goes wrong? Only one way to find out.


CREATOR/WRITER/PRODUCER/ACTOR: Anna Marr is an actor/writer/voiceover artist based in LA. A longtime Story Pirate, co-founder of Bluelaces Theatre Co., & Vulture contributor, she is a UCB-trained improviser and musical improviser and has been featured in videos on Bustle & Allure and in the hit, award-winning Story Pirates podcast. She's a proud Northwestern University alum passionate about sleep health & ice cream.

DIRECTOR: Lorena Russi is a Queens native and Queer-Latinx comedian, host and filmmaker now selling out in Brooklyn. Her 9 years in comedy, media and education ranges from hosting Chipotle’s Snapchat Channel to Head Writer for Spotify’s “Game Plan” to working on “The Late Show w/ Stephen Colbert” digital team. Her bilingual Dad jokes have been featured on the Oscars, Comedy Central, Amazon, Vice, Refinery29, BAM, and Time Out’s “LGBTQ POC Comedians We’re Obsessed With.” Outside of comedy, Lorena is an ex-pro soccer player that daydreams about symmetrical knees. Lorena has two projects currently in development, both heavily influenced by her immigrant guilt.

Walking Through Peanut Butter

Lorena Russi, Anna Marr
Comedy Short 

22-year-old workaholic Jessie has just moved to the city that never sleeps to follow her dreams of stand-up comedy. She also has narcolepsy, a misunderstood sleep disorder that even she knows little about. In this short, Jessie steps up to the mic only to discover a strange new symptom that will threaten to challenge her comedy career and force her to wake up to the reality of having a serious chronic illness.

Rebecca Anton is a Queens-based filmmaker who attended Frank Sinatra School of the Arts HS in Astoria NY, in the film department, and is attending PRATT INSTITUTE to study film. She has created many short films over the past 4 years.  This film is an outer portrayal of a personal inner struggle.


Rebecca Anton
Experimental Short

A young girl confronts her eating disorder and life in general in this experimental youth short.