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Image of filmmaker Birgit Gohlke in headphones in the documentary Screenability: Stuttering - My Constant Companion

Screenability 2018 at Sydney Film Festival: Your Complete Guide


Sydney Film Festival (SFF) welcomes back the Screenability program produced in partnership with Create NSW and FACS (the Department of Family and Community Services), in this its second year.

It’s the SFF’s platform for screen practitioners with disability leading their narratives. This international program showcases the best of 2018, spanning drama and documentary from Australia, Israel, Austria and the UK, offering a unique world view on life.

Opening Night

The Screenability SFF Opening Night will be held on Thursday 14 June at 6:30 pm at Hoyts Entertainment Quarter. It will be the World Premiere screening of three great new Australian short films made possible through the Create NSW Screenability Filmmakers Fund. The filmmakers will be in attendance at this screening.

Screenability Shorts

Director: Stevie Cruz-Martin
Screenwriter: Daniel Monks
Producers: Stef Smith, Daniel Monks
Cast: Daniel Monks, Alfie Gledhill
Australia | 2018 | 11 mins | In English | World Premiere

In this superb, understated film, writer-actor Daniel Monks (Pulse, SFF 2017) plays a gay man unsure if it’s his partner or his disability causing their relationship to fail.

Two young men are sitting on a bed and holding each other


Intimate Encounters 20 Years On
Director/Producer: Dieter Knierim
Screenwriters: Jynotsa Arora, Belinda Mason
Australia | 2018 | 12 mins | In English | World Premiere

Twenty years ago, an Australian exhibition caused shockwaves with photos of people with disability proudly displaying their sexuality. Now, the models speak about changing attitudes.

Two women and two men are standing with their backs to the wall and looking at the camera

Intimate Encounters 20 Years On: Director and Team

Tip of My Tongue
Director/Screenwriter: Samia Halabi
Producers: Lauren Jones, Guido Gonzalez
Cast: Tia Halabi, Johnny Nasser, Joshua Liu
Australia | 2018 | 8 mins | In English and Arabic with English subtitles | World Premiere

Writer-director Samia Halabi explores her struggles with speaking in this touching story of a Muslim teenager trying to rekindle friendship with a childhood playmate.

A young woman is sitting on the edge of a bed and looking at an object she is holding in her hands

Tip of My Tongue

Thursday 14 June 6:30 pm, Hoyts Entertainment Quarter (Opening Night)
Saturday 16 June 12:30 pm, Hoyts Entertainment Quarter
Sunday 17 June 4:00 pm, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre (Free Event)

Feature Films

Stuttering – My Constant Companion
Directors/Screenwriters: Birgit Gohlke and Petra Nickel
Producer: Peter Janacek
Austria | 2017 | 90 mins | In German with English subtitles | International Premiere

After The King’s Speech triggers uncomfortable memories for documentarian Birgit Gohlke, she decides to confront her own stuttering on film. Gohlke seeks out other stutterers to learn about their experiences and the ways they cope with their speech problems. We meet young Benedikt, whose stuttering disappears whenever he sings. Poet Gerard has found refuge in the written word. And David Seidler, the writer of The King’s Speech, also speaks revealingly about his experiences with stuttering. And Birgit is personally confronted watching an actor learn how to stutter for an upcoming role. Intercut with gorgeous animation, Stuttering  My Constant Companion is an insightful look at a common but little understood phenomenon.

Screenability: A young man with headphones is sitting in a recording studio

Stuttering – My Constant Companion

Friday 15 June 6:30 pm, Hoyts Entertainment Quarter
Sunday 17 June 10:00 am, Hoyts Entertainment Quarter

The Sign For Love
Directors: Elad Cohen, Iris Ben Moshe
Screenwriter: Elad Cohen
Producer: Nati Adler
Israel | 2017 | 76 mins | In Hebrew and Israeli Sign Language with English subtitles | Australian Premiere

In The Sign For Love, Deaf Israeli Elad Cohen has felt guilty about being deaf since childhood, when his mother told him “raising you is like raising three kids.” After his mother’s tragic death, the divide between Cohen and his family only widens. Craving the stability of a family of his own, he decides to have a baby with his Deaf best friend Yeali. But both are unprepared for the shock of being a new parents and living arrangements become complicated. It’s not until his son’s first birthday that Elad is able to reconnect with his father and sister. This deeply touching first-person documentary explores universal truths about familial misunderstandings, cultural bias against Deaf people, and the struggles of fatherhood.

A man is in a swimming pool and is leaning his head on his arms at the edge of the pool

The Sign For Love

Screens with To Know Him

To Know Him
Director: Ted Evans
Screenwriter: Kellie Smith
Producers: Jennifer Monks, Michelle Eastwood
Cast: Ged McKenna, Jemma Joyce, Hermi Berhane
UK | 2018 | 28 mins | In English and UK Sign Language with English subtitles | International Premiere

In this simple and powerful film, Deaf woman Sarah suddenly learns of her partner Rob’s death, and must battle with his father for ownership of his body to say her final goodbyes.

Two women are on a beach looking over their left shoulders

To Know Him

Saturday 16 June 2:00 pm, Hoyts Entertainment Quarter
Sunday 17 June 12:15 pm, Hoyts Entertainment Quarter

Meet the Filmmakers: Screenability

This event is in conjunction with the Australian Film, Television and Radio School (AFTRS) and Accessible Arts. Join in after the screening of The Sign For Love, for an in-depth discussion about the opportunities available to and the support for filmmakers from the Screenability program strand.

Saturday 16 June 4:15 pm, AFTRS

Additional Accessible Session

Relaxed Performance of Maya the Bee: The Honey Games

Maya the Bee: The Honey Games
Directors: Noel Cleary, Sergio Delfino, Alexs Stadermann
Screenwriter: Fin Edquist
Producers: Thorsten Wegener, Tracy Lenon, Brian Rosen
Voice Cast: Coco Jack Gillies, Richard Roxburgh, Justine Clarke
Australia, Germany | 2018 | 83 mins | In English | Australian Premiere

Maya the plucky bee returns in this charming animated adventure – a colourful tale of buzzy derring-do for kids aged three and up, directed by top Sydney animators.

Bubbly Maya (voiced by Coco Jack Gillies from Oddball and Mad Max: Fury Road) is set a challenge when she accidentally embarrasses the Empress of Buzztropolis. The little bee must win the prestigious Honey Games to save her hive’s honey harvest. With her best friend Willi (voiced by Benson Jack Anthony) beside her, she meets her ragtag team, including old friends Arnie and Barnie (voiced by David Collins and Shane Dundas of The Umbilical Brothers). She also encounters a jealous bee called Violet, who’s determined her team will come out on top. Maya eventually learns how to get the best from her insect crew, with a little advice from Flip (voiced by Richard Roxburgh) and his band, and Justine Clark as the wise Queen Bee.

Sunday 17 June 1:00 pm, Hoyts Entertainment Quarter

Bookings and Accessibility Information

For all access and inclusion bookings or enquires, and to notify SFF of your needs so the team can make your visit as enjoyable as possible, please call 1300 733 733 or email

You can find venue specific access information at

Companion Cards

Sydney Film Festival welcomes Companion Card holders to all sessions. For guests who require the assistance of a companion or carer, a second ticket is issued at no cost to the Companion Card holder. Companion Card tickets can be booked online by adding them to your cart and then entering your Companion Card number on checkout.


All Screenability sessions include Audio Description. Audio describers give verbal descriptions of all the visual elements of what is happening on the screen. This is done during natural pauses and gaps in the dialogue via a small earpiece, provided to audience members before the show.

Audio Description is available at all Screenability sessions. Customers must book the service in advance online or over the phone and pick up their FM headset on arrival. This service has limited availability.

Assistance Animals

Assistance animals are welcome at all Sydney Film Festival events and venues. Bookings are essential so the venue can be advised.


Auslan Interpretation
All Screenability Q & As, introductions and talks will include Auslan interpretation.

Open Captioning
Open captions will display all of the words and sounds from the Screenability films in on-screen text.

Assistive Listening
Most Sydney Film Festival venues have an induction hearing loop system or hearing aid transmitters. See the venue specific information on the SFF website at

Subtitled Screenings
All foreign language screenings are subtitled in English. These do not include full open captions.

Other Access

Wheelchair Spaces
All Sydney Film Festival venues are wheelchair accessible or have been made accessible for the Festival. All theatres offer designated wheelchair spaces. You can reserve a wheelchair space for sessions in the Screenability Program online at the same time you are booking your ticket. For other venues, see the venue specific information at for details and contact 1300 733 733 or email when booking to confirm space.

Most of the venues for the Restaurant Partner deals are fully accessible. For information on each venue visit

Relaxed Performances
Relaxed performances are designed to create a safe and welcoming environment for people on the autism spectrum and for others with disability that experience sensory sensitivities, along with their friends, carers and families. Screenings are provided in a supportive and non-judgemental environment, with slight modifications to sound and lighting, an open door policy and a quiet area available. There is a relaxed performance of Maya the Bee: The Honey Games on Sunday 17 June, 1 pm at Hoyts Entertainment Quarter.

Alternative Formats – Guide
The Screenability Access and Inclusion Guide will soon be available in an audio MP3 file, Auslan interpreted subtitled video, and PDF download. Physical copies are available in print and can be requested by contacting the SFF at The SFF is in the process of creating a Braille copy.

This page was first published on 11 May 2018.