A Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award winner at Sundance, Jerry Rothwell’s film is a revelatory work of education, a vital act of advocacy and an adventure for the senses. The subject is autism, and the source material is a book by Naoki Higashida, who lives with the condition and who, at age 13, wrote a groundbreaking account of it. Rothwell gives us excerpts from the book in voiceover while profiling Ben, Emma, Jestina, Joss, and Amrit, all of whom share with Naoki a neurological difference that has been much misunderstood by society at large.
Each of these individuals is unique in the challenges they face, and each makes for a powerful screen presence. Like Naoki, they’re obstructed by severe verbal challenges; also like him, they’re endowed with rich and intense inner lives. Rothwell experiments with sound and image to convey those lives; the results are at times jarring and at times intoxicating. The director’s aim is to bridge the gaps that circumstance has placed between the neurotypical and the autistic, and in this sense, his film is a resounding triumph.
Audience Award, World Documentary Competition, Sundance 20
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Please note that VIFF 2020 online films can be viewed in British Columbia only.
Jerry Rothwell’s work includes the award-winning feature documentaries How to Change the World, Sour Grapes, Town of Runners (all of which played at VIFF’s Vancity Theatre), The School in the Cloud, Donor Unknown, Heavy Load and Deep Water. His films have won numerous accolades including two Grierson Awards, a Sundance Special Jury Prize, an RTS Award, the IDA Pare Lorentz Award and a BAFTA nomination.
Deep Water (2006); How to Change the World (2015); Sour Grapes (2016)