The trailer above is for Wampler’s Ascent, a film following Steve Wampler, who has cerebral palsy, as he does some 20,000 pull-ups to conquer the 3,000 foot face of Yosemite’s iconic El Capitan. Part determination doc, part nature flick, the film is just the thing you’d want to kick off the Twin Cities’ inaugural Reel Abilities film festival: five days of inspiring stories and profound insights into realities not often explored in popular cinema.

On Friday, at Minneapolis’ St. Anthony Main Theatre, the festival starts with Wampler’s Ascent, followed by a Q & A with Wampler himself. As such, many of the festival’s weekend screenings will be followed by discussion. That way, the festival’s goal of appreciating the “lives, stories and artistic expressions of people with different disabilities” can be best achieved.

But don’t get me wrong. Not all the movies are going for that inspiration-by-means-of-physical-accomplishment angle. Some, like AKA Doc Pomus , follow the lives of creative people with disabilities and examine the various factors that shaped them into artistic powerhouses. Then there’s  the offbeat Come As You Are, a road trip flick about three young European guys — one is blind, one is a paraplegic and one has an incurable brain tumor — who seek what all young men seek: sex. And they’re determined to go to a special Spanish brothel to find it.

The screenings mostly take place at the St. Anthony Main Theatre. Tickets are, generally, $10. The festival is hosted by the Film Society of Minneapolis/St. Paul.

Below you’ll find a schedule of the films playing. For more information on the festival and the films, go to

Friday, Nov. 1

5 p.m. – Opening Night Reception at Pracna on Main, which is next door to the St. Anthony Main Theatre
7 p.m. – Wampler’s Ascent with post-screening Q&A by Steve Wampler
9 p.m. – Come As You Are at St. Anthony Main Theatre

Saturday, Nov. 2
1 p.m. – Reel Encounters Shorts
3 p.m. – Wretches & Jabberers, with post-screening discussion
5 p.m. – Ocean Heaven, with post-screening discussion
8 p.m. – Ben X

Sunday, Nov. 3
1 p.m. – Shooting Beauty, with post-screening discussion
1 p.m. – Wretches & Jabberers, with Autism in Love + Discussion at St. Paul JCC
3 p.m. – Warrior Champions with Bridging War & Hope and Limitless
5:30 p.m. – Veteran’s Reception in the St. Anthony Main Theatre lobby
6 p.m. – Wampler’s Ascent with post-screening discussion
9 p.m. – When I Walk

Monday, Nov. 4
9:30 a.m. – Reel Encounters Shorts  (RSVP required; call 952-925-1404)
12 p.m.  – Reel Encounters Shorts   (RSVP required; call 952-925-1404)
6:30 p.m. – Anita, with post-screening discussion
9 p.m. – Come As You

Tuesday, Nov. 5
7 p.m. – AKA Doc Pomus 
8 p.m. – Closing night reception at Pracna on Main

Jonathon Sharp


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