Cory Reeder and Diana Elizabeth Jordan on Featuring People with Disabilities in Best Friend | Slamdance 2021 [Exclusive Interview]

Cory Reeder
Cory Reeder directed Best Friends

A strong minority of Americans have some kind of disability.

The gradual trend in Hollywood is now featuring more disabled characters. Although the diversification appeared on screen, Ruderman Family Foundation reported 80 percent of all disabled characters on the small screen are portrayed by non-disabled actors. Also, the report covered 280 networks and streaming shows only found that half the featured characters are with physical, cognitive, or mental health disabilities.

At this year’s Slamdance Film Festival, it features its first-ever Unstoppable Program highlighting films made and featuring people with disabilities (PWD).

In Best Friend, it’s a family comedy about a family that recently moved into Los Angeles with a daughter with Down Syndrome struggling to adjust.

The short film stars Gitane Neil, Diana Elizabeth Jordan, Kim Kendall, Robert Buscemi, Andrew “Julian” Alvarado, Doc Farrow, and Anicka Haywood. Cory Reed wrote and directed the short film. The film also marked the acting debut for Neil and Alvarado.

Here’s the brief synopsis:

Best Friend is a family comedy about a young girl who gets more than a best friend from a dog that her parents let her adopt.

This short film was originally produced in 2017’s Easterseals Disability Film Challenge. It earned nominations in all 4 Easterseals competition categories, winning two awards, including best picture. The short film went on to screen at more than forty festivals.

ALSO CHECK OUT: Troy DeWinne and Ethan Dirks on Creating Animated Goblin Music Video with Chef Giants | Slamdance 2021 [Exclusive Interview]

LRM Online’s Gig Patta talked with director/writer Cory Reeder and producer/actress Diana Elizabeth Jordan for the short film. We talked about actors with disabilities, the film’s child actors, and the movement towards diversity.

Cory Reeder is a writer, director, producer, and founder of Renaissance Man Productions. Since 2011, he created music videos for Hayley Kiyoko, Jonathan Davis, Seether, Martin Solveig, Of Mice & Men, Five Finger Death Punch, and more. In 2014, he directed the award-winning short film Unlikely Temptations starring Nic Novicki. Two years later, his film Boxed Out earned Diana Elizabeth Jordan a Best Actor Award at the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge. During the 2020 pandemic, he directed Hyper Active, a short documentary exploring his adult diagnosis of ADHD.

Diana Elizabeth Jordan is an actress, who is usually cast in roles where her disability is incidental to the character or storyline. She has appeared in numerous films and short films over the years. Some of the films included Boxed Out, Speed Date, I Can, and Rule of 3.

Best Friend is currently streaming at the Slamdance Film Festival. Visit www.slamdance.com for ticket information.

Watch the exclusive interview below with Cory Reed and Diana Elizabeth Jordan. Let us know what you think.

Source: LRM Online Exclusive, Renaissance Man Productions

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Gig Patta

Gig Patta is a journalist and interviewer for LRM and Latino-Review since 2009. He was a writer for other entertainment sites in the past with Collider and IESB.net. He originally came from the world of print journalism with several years as a reporter with the San Diego Business Journal and California Review. He earned his MBA from the Keller Graduate School of Management and BA in Economics from UC San Diego. Follow him on Instagram @gigpatta or Facebook @officialgigpatta.

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