Acting at any ability: Film festival celebrates inclusion

Achieve with Us Film Festival

KUSA - One minute before his live interview on 9NEWS, Connor Long makes it clear that he’s not nervous. He doesn’t get nervous. He just doesn’t. That’s because he’s a pro. The 22-year-old actor is even nominated for a Hollywood award for his craft.

Long is nominated in the Best Actor category of the Young Entertainer Awards. To him, though, one of the things that’s just as important as acting is activism.

Long has Down Syndrome and wants to make sure everyone knows that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are just as capable as anyone else of achieving their goals. He stars in the new film, “Learning to Drive.” It details the journey of two brothers on a road trip after their mother dies. Long’s character, Mikey, desperately wants to learn how to drive and earn his driver’s license.

“Learning to Drive” is a featured film at the Achieve with Us Film Festival. It highlights films featuring stories involving developmental disabilities and actors and film creators with disabilities.

“These are films from around the world,” said Marijo Rymer, executive director of The Arc of Colorado.  “And we make them available for people to see for free to help highlight the gifts and talents of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

Not to be confused with a non-profit that has a similar name, the Arc of Colorado is an advocacy organization.

“We exist to protect and promote the civil rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” Rymer said. 

The sixth annual Achieve with Us Film Festival is happening on Friday, March 10. The Arc of Colorado will offer three free screenings of “Learning to Drive”: noon, 3 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. at the Sie Film Center (2510 E. Colfax Ave). Long will do a live talkback with the audience after the 6:30 p.m, screening. He advises anyone who dreams big to set a goal while still marveling at his recent award nomination.

“It’s really good self-esteem for me,” he said.

To learn more about The Arc of Colorado Achieve with Us Film Festival, click here: http://bit.ly/2nax747

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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