“A radiant, uplifting story of an autistic boy who transcends his condition by transferring life’s challenges into the format of a Disney animated movie, the film is a documentary gem.” – Hollywood Reporter
When he was three years old, Owen Suskind stopped speaking. Diagnosed with autism, he was interested in nothing save for the animated films of the Disney company. Immersing himself in these movies, Owen began communicating using only lines spoken by his favourite characters. Using quotes from the likes of Simba, Ariel and Jafar, Owen was finally able to open up, and his family discovered a porthole into their son’s mind.
Inspired by and based on Ron Suskind’s book about his son’s journey from nearly mute toddler to young man seeking independence, Academy Award® winning director Roger Ross Williams’ documentary expertly combines classic Disney sequences and strikingly original hand-drawn animations alongside the Suskind family story. Scoring Williams the award for best directing (US Documentary) at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, it’s a powerful emotional experience and a knockout insight into how art can shine a light in the darkest of places.
“Not only does the film open its audience’s eyes to the world of autism it also sheds new light on the almost Shakespearean qualities of films like The Lion King. Five Stars.” – The Guardian
Classification: PG – Mild themes and coarse language
Distributor: Madman Entertainment
Dates & Times:
Saturday 3 December 3pm
Directed & Produced by ROGER ROSS WILLIAMS
Produced by JULIE GOLDMAN
Edited By DAVID TEAGUE
Executive Producers MOLLY THOMPSON, ROBERT DEBITETTO, ROBERT SHARENOW
Cinematography by TOM BERGMANN
Co-Producers CAROLYN HEPBURN, CHRISTOPHER CLEMENTS
Original Music by DYLAN STARK, T. GRIFFIN
Score Produced by T. GRIFFIN
Executive Producer RON SUSKIND
Associate Producer LINDSAY RICHARDSON
Production Coordinator SEAN LYNESS
Original Animation MAC GUFF
Title Sequence and Graphics TROLLBÄCK + COMPANY
A captivating portrait of a young man for whom Disney animated movies have provided a powerful lifeline to progress, language and understanding.
Justin Chang, Variety
Instead of false hope, it offers up possibility, the chance of a stimulus that might get past the blocks of developmental disorder.
Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
Like the Disney movie clips that flood its frames, this too-tentative look at how a bound mind found freedom in animation leaves us in little doubt of a happy ending.
Jeannette Catsoulis, The NYTimes
Incredibly moving documentary takes us into the interior life of an autistic person, and explores how films helped him communicate with the outside world.
Lanre Bakare, The Guardian
Oscar winner Roger Ross Williams beautifully captures the unbelievably emotional story of a young man with autism and his lifelong love of Disney movies, which allow him to process the world.
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Observing Owen watch The Little Mermaid or Aladdin or The Lion King, I found it hard not to cry. And I don’t particularly even like Disney animation.
David Edelstein, Vulture
The story is an inspiring one, made even more emotionally stirring by the radiant, resilient, high-functioning young man at its center.
Ann Hornaday, Washington Post