Astronaut’s story will lead expanded 2017 ReelAbilities Film Festival


Astronaut Rich Clifford

Astronaut Rich Clifford

Thursday-Sunday, March 9-12, Duke Energy Convention Center

Retired Army Lt. Col. Rich Clifford made U.S. history as the first NASA astronaut to conduct a six-hour spacewalk while docked to an orbiting space station.

Clifford successfully completed that mission while keeping perhaps one of NASA’s most significant secrets: He was newly diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

He and his story will lead a long list of nationally recognized personalities and feature films for a Hollywood-style celebration of humanity and differences at the expanded Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival organized by LADD (Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled). One of the largest film festivals in the country, it is expected to draw 10,000 visitors to the Duke Energy Convention Center.

Clifford was one of six astronauts aboard Atlantis on that 1996 docking mission to the Russian space station Mir. It was his third and final mission. Anticipating questions and concerns if he disclosed his diagnosis, only his flight director, crew and limited NASA staff knew his secret. He and his documentary, “The Astronaut’s Secret,” will be featured at the film festival’s premiere night March 9.

The red carpet will be rolled out as the festival is transformed into a film screening extravaganza with star-studded parties, workshops, special events, speakers, lounges and more than 40 films showcasing the stories, lives and art of people who experience disabilities.
Attendees can have a root beer shot at Saturday’s crazy fun party (details to come); join in a tribute to military heroes and veterans; see some of the region’s greatest locally produced short films; and learn how to act, model, tell your story or create low-tech films.

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