The Center for Disability Rights Launches the Free Our People Film Contest

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Logo of Free Our People Film Contest. Black "FREE OUR PEOPLE" in all caps on top. Below right is smaller black "Film Contest" in all caps. On lower left is a graphic of purple film strip.

Rochester, NY — The Center for Disability Rights (CDR), a disability led, not for profit corporation that provides services to people with disabilities to promote independence and self-determination, will be holding its second annual Free Our People Film Contest. The contest is scheduled to begin February 1st with a deadline for submissions on March 31st.

Part of CDR’s core mission of promoting self-determination for disabled people includes advocating for the rights of people to live in the community with their friends and family rather than an institutionalized setting, like a nursing home. Currently and historically, this goal of community integration is made more difficult by a long-term care system that prioritizes nursing home care as a necessary entitlement while making home and community based care an afterthought. This bias towards institutionalization is referred to as, unsurprisingly, the institutional bias. Part of CDR’s mission is to challenge this institutional bias to give people back the kinds of control over their own life that is not available to them in a nursing home.

The “Free Our People Film Contest” is one way in which CDR is working to dismantle the systems that keep people locked away in nursing homes.

Thus, CDR is inviting any and all filmmaking enthusiasts to participate in its film contest, in order to garner stories of how the institutional bias has impacted members of every community. The film contest will last two months and will accept both documentary and narrative films. A panel of judges with a range of expertise in film, entertainment and disability advocacy will evaluate the entries and prizes will be awarded. The first, second and third place entries will receive a variety of prizes that include mentoring sessions with accomplished film professionals including Wendy Calhoun (co-executive producer of EMPIRE), $1000 and $500 cash prizes, travel funding, and filmmaking software. Two honorable mention spots will also have their films included in CDR’s upcoming film festival, scheduled for Summer of 2018. The contest organizers would like to thank the following sponsors for providing these prizes: Dramatica, Scrivener, Mariner Software, Jungle Software, and The Center for Disability Rights. For more information about how to submit a film:

“The Free Our People Film Contest is exciting because it centers disabled experiences and the perspectives of people with disabilities in the whole filmmaking process,” said last year’s first place winner, Cheryl Green. “It’s such an honor to be recognized for filmmaking that doesn’t cater to non-disabled people. This contest and festival gave me the opportunity to challenge myself as an artist while confronting the hugely complex issues around institutional bias against people with disabilities. “

For more information, contact Stephanie Woodward at 585.269.9184 or