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A Must Do: SeriesFest — the Sundance of Television

Red Rocks, Yellowstone, Kevin Costner, Red Rocks, SeriesFest
Series Premiere of Kevin Costner’s Yellowstone at RedRocks for SeriesFest

Heralded as “an award-winning television festival dedicated to showcasing the best and boldest in episodic storytelling from around the world,” SeriesFest is a can’t-miss for those looking for stories to which they can relate.

At a time when television entertainment continues to expand, evolve and embrace ever-changing platforms, the need for a diverse range of programming continues to grow. As trailblazers in independent content development, SeriesFest creates a global marketplace and community for creators, industry professionals and audiences.

The annual event takes place each summer in Denver, Colorado — the birthplace of cable television. With a musical performance and network premiere at Red Rocks Amphitheatre and six full days of in-competition screenings, panels, network sneak peeks and premieres, SeriesFest provides a platform for compelling and creative content. It also celebrates television history and engages in meaningful dialogue.

The impact of inclusion

SeriesFest 2018, this year held a panel discussion on the inclusion of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) both on-screen and behind-the-scenes in screen entertainment. Audiences and makers alike often are oblivious that this community is missing in film, television and online content. Identified as disabled by way of illness, injury or birth, among other things, sometimes characters are portrayed on television with a hearing or vision impairment — for example — “Switched at Birth,” which centers firmly on a deaf girl and the deaf community. Many may now see videos popping up in online feeds that include amputees, adults with Down Syndrome or children with Progeria (a rare genetic condition characterized by the appearance of accelerated aging).

The panel was a timely and necessary one that brings the topic of inclusion into the limelight. Panelists included Antoinette Abbamonte, of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and RJ Mitte of  “Breaking Bad,” along with others who deftly and adroitly presented some of their industry struggles. Tales of failed auditions, frustrating casting calls and bit parts in B movies, mounted evidence for the argument that PWDs make up less than two percent of on-screen personalities and even fewer writers, producers and the like. Panelists spoke of a fear-based discrimination as creators often believe somehow their content will fail if a PWD is included on the payroll. Myths surrounding disabilities and the proficiency of PWDs were also a heated topic of conversation.

Surprisingly, panelists also highlighted PWDs making themselves available for casting, citing that by not taking a leap of faith in writing a screenplay or auditioning for a role, community members often deny themselves the chance of inclusion.

With American Sign Language translators on every panel, and increasing focus on inclusion in entertainment, SeriesFest clearly is making strides toward presenting media that represent everyone.  We need to continue the conversation, ensuring the issue of size, weight and standard considerations of beauty join in, in order to create a truly inclusive industry that speaks to all of its audience.

Why attend

Whether looking for your tribe or wanting a sneak peek at some of the greatest international television has to offer, run — don’t walk, to find out more about SeriesFest and plan your outing for 2019.  A year-round operation, we suggest signing up for their newsletter to find out more about what’s coming. 

For more information, visit www.seriesfest.com

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