It gets bigger every year!

‘This year’s Focus On Ability (FOA) film selection feels even more international,’ says long-time judge David Cameron of the 2018 competition.

‘There’s a sense of expansion,’ David says, ‘discovering the hidden, the not yet acclaimed, the unnoticed …’

Indeed, this year’s FOA is more international. Not only did we receive a record number of international entries, a record number of people voted for their favourites! Viewers from 164 countries watched the films and we experienced a 45% increase in film views overall.

While the winners will not be revealed until the awards ceremony on 5 September, we can say that the international results were neck-a-neck on the final day of voting, so much so that first and second place getters changed four times that day! Similarly on the final day, in the schools section, first and second places shifted. However, one open entrant took the lead with a few days to go and powered home to win.

For David it’s pleasing and reaffirming that something like this can find legs and grow. ‘In the world of film and television, every series can be the last so each time another series of ‘Stingers’ got through, the entire team celebrated!”’ It’s worth acknowledging each year of growth.

Since the inaugural festival in 2009, each year there have been more films for David and his fellow judges to watch, an increase that is rewarding the considerable effort required to bring this festival together, from the film makers themselves, but also organisers, including NOVA Employment CEO Martin Wren and NOVA Employment Ambassador Paula Duncan.

It gets bigger every year. It also gets better every year. But it stays true to its intention – to be an accessible festival that highlights the abilities of people with disability. The competition remains free to enter and the awards night is open to all to attend. ‘It’s growing and changing every year,’ David says. ‘It has to adapt and it does.’