This year, we decided to celebrate Ethan Saylor’s legacy by hosting a film festival. It was a chance to remember Ethan’s love of movies and help promote filmmakers and actors in our community.
The first annual Ethan Saylor Memorial Film Festival was held January 14th and 15th at Bow-Tie Cinema’s Harbour 9 Theater in Annapolis, Maryland. We screened fourteen films that had a connection to the Down syndrome (Ds) community: either an actor with Ds in a starring role, created by someone with Ds, or a documentary about someone with Ds.
This is one of my favorite photos from the event– from left to right
Matthew Zufelt – along with Sam Suchmann (middle) wrote and starred in Spring Break Zombie Masacre.
Marcus Sikora (with his signature accessory – a cool hat) wrote a children’s book called Black Day: The Monster Rock Band. The animated short of his story was screened at the festival.
Mike McNally – wrote and directed the short film – The Flower – that was screened at the festival.
It was an honor to be in the same room with these guys!
The audience was impressed by the level of talent displayed in the films and came away with a new understanding of what is possible.
— Gene Deems (@gdeems) January 15, 2017
“But the festival was about more than Ethan. It was about talent that often goes unnoticed. It was about diversity in an influential industry that struggles to include minority voices. It was about shining a light on deserving stars within our community.’ – You can read more of my thoughts about the festival, and see more pictures, here.
Ultimately, it was also about jobs. People with Down syndrome, and any other disability, should be given the opportunity to pursue their dreams, go where their talent takes them, and thrive.
The film festival, which we hope will be an annual event, helped raise awareness and change perceptions about this simple human right.