New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT) is pleased to announce the presentation of the Loreen Arbus Disability Awareness Grant to Ashley Eakin for her narrative short film Single. The film completion grant, now in its 13th year, is provided through the generosity of longtime disability rights advocate Loreen Arbus and awards $7,500 to a woman filmmaker for a film on physical or developmental disability issues.
Single confronts the complexities of being disabled and dating. Kim, who was born with one arm, gets set up to go on a blind date with Jake, who – to her horror – has only one hand. Unable to get over the apparent ignorance of their matchmaker, as well as her own insecurities about being different, Kim tries to bail. Writer/director Ashley Eakin is a filmmaker with a physical disability and a participant in the 2020 AFI Directing Workshop for Women, where she produced Single. In 2019, Eakin shadowed Mark Pellington on a Quibi series starring Sophie Turner. She was also the assistant to director Jon M. Chu while making Crazy Rich Asians. Eakin’s short film Blue premiered at the 2019 LA Shorts Fest and her documentary The Details, featuring Henry Golding and Awkwafina, was selected for the Hamilton Film Festival.
Single will premiere at the prestigious SXSW festival in March 2020.
“Disability is rarely included in the diversity conversation and I am excited to be putting forward content that gives a more diverse representation of what it means to live with a disability,” filmmaker Ashley Eakin said. “This grant has come at a pivotal time in my career where the road ahead is unknown but holds many possibilities, and this push forward fuels my passion to change the landscape and disrupt the narrative for disability content. The time has come to see ourselves represented on screen. I am forever grateful to NYWIFT and everyone involved.”
The project was chosen from a wide range of applications submitted by women filmmakers from around the country.
“I am thrilled to continue my partnership with New York Women in Film & Television, an organization near and dear to my heart, and support a wonderful up-and-coming filmmaker, Ashley Eakin,” Loreen Arbus said. “People with disability the world’s largest minority, and their voices so often go unheard in the media. We hope to change that. To have a filmmaker with disability like Ashley telling such a unique and deeply personal story, in such an insightful and entertaining manner, is a wonderful way to amplify, support and celebrate this community.”
“NYWIFT is proud to once again join forces with Loreen Arbus to support women filmmakers and champion the underrepresented voices of the disabled community,” said NYWIFT Executive Director Cynthia Lopez. “Ashey Eakin’s film is fresh, smart and bitingly funny, with a sharp point of view and unflinching vulnerability that provides a unique window into the complexities of being young and disabled. We are thrilled for her success and cant’ wait to see what she does next. She is a filmmaker to watch.”
In addition, the project received an in-kind post production grant for media accessibility assets: audio description for blind and low vision audiences and closed captioning for Deaf and hard of hearing audiences. This grant was generously provided by Michele Spitz of Woman of Her Word. Spitz has provided these elements to the NYWIFT Loren Arbus grantees since 2016.
“Single is a wonderfully creative short film with thoughtfully presented commentary on the nuances of dating for all people to reflect upon,” Michele Spitz said. “Ashley also happens to be a rather extraordinary woman with a bigger story that led her to making this impactful film. No doubt Ashley is going to continue to pursue stories in media to help raise the bar of awareness and encourage audiences to think outside the box.”