Thursday, May 17, 2007

Documentary, "Autism: The Musical," Seeks to Show Kids and Parents With Sympathy (Not Pity)

"Autism: The Musical" is a documentary that uses a theater production in which five autistic kids from Los Angeles are players to shed light on the lives of the children and their families. The 94-minute movie, directed by Tricia Regan, debuted last month at the Tribeca Film Festival. It is scheduled to play at the Newport Film Festival in Newport, R.I., in June.

Both the film's own writeup (an excerpt is below at the end of this post) and a recent review in the online edition of Variety suggest that this film aims to portray both the challenging and positive aspects of family life and experiences with a son or daughter on the autism spectrum.

From Variety's review, complete with Hollywood shorthand jargon, (read the whole article here):

"Regan primarily focuses on five children and their parents, and not the least of the pic's accomplishments is that all five kids' one-of-a-kind quirks and temperaments are fully experienced without excessive reference to medical terminology or anything extrinsic. By the time it's revealed that one of the fathers is [singer-songwriter] Stephen Stills, the information seems entirely secondary to his son's unique personality and encyclopedic knowledge of dinosaurs. With nary a throbbing violin (though one boy plays the cello), pic manifests each child's value, minimizing neither their undoubted potential nor their very real problems."

This marketing writeup below, written for a general public audience which may know little or nothing about autism spectrum disorders, comes from the film's website:

Ten years ago, autism was a relatively rare disorder, diagnosed in one in 10,000 children in the United States. A decade later, one in 150 children is diagnosed with some form of the disease. ... Autism: The Musical counters today's bleak statistics with one woman's optimistic pledge to lead a group of autistic children in defying diagnosed expectations, by writing, rehearsing and performing their own full-length musical. Following five Los Angeles children over the course of a year, director Tricia Regan captures the struggles and triumphs of their family lives and observes how this musical production gives these performers a comfort zone-often for the first time-in which they can explore their creative sides.

I've put in a request to the filmmaker to see where else the movie is scheduled to play and will report back when I hear.

1 comment:

ellyt said...

Michael and others,
Autism: The Musical played here in Charlottesville VA this weekend to a packed house of over 900 people. The reaction was unanimously positive.
It is an amazing film, with universal appeal. The children and situations are so real and there were many in the audience that just kept nodding with familiarity.
The director was here for the showing and said that if we want to see it on HBO, we should write letters to HBO Documentaries and request it.
I hope everyone gets a chance to see it. It is well worth it!!