Opening Night: Life Animated

Showing: Thursday 9th November 2017 at 8pm 
Director: Roger Ross Williams
Cast: Jonathan Freeman, Gilbert Gottfried, Alan Rosenblatt
Genre: Documentary, Animation, Drama
Runtime: 1hr 32min
Cert: PG


From Academy Award® winning director Roger Ross Williams, LIFE, ANIMATED is the inspirational story of Owen Suskind, a young man who was unable to speak as a child until he and his family discovered a unique way to communicate by immersing themselves in the world of classic Disney animated films. This emotional coming-of-age story follows Owen as he graduates to adulthood and takes his first steps toward independence. The subject of his father Ron Suskind’s New York Times bestseller, Owen was a thriving three year old who suddenly and inexplicably went silent – and for years after remained unable to connect with other people or to convey his thoughts, feelings or desires. Over time, through repeated viewings of Disney classics like THE LITTLE MERMAID and THE LION KING, Owen found useful tools to help him to understand complex social cues and to re-connect with the world around him. 

LIFE, ANIMATED evocatively interweaves classic Disney sequences with verite scenes from Owen’s life in order to explore how his identification and empathy for characters like Simba, Jafar, and Ariel gave him a means to understand his feelings and allowed him to interpret reality.  Beautiful, original animations offer rich insights into Owen’s fruitful dialogue with the Disney oeuvre as he imagines himself heroically facing adversity as a member in a tribe of sidekicks. Owen’s story is a moving testament to the many ways in which stories can serve as a means of persevering through the dark times, leading us all toward the light. 

Directed & Produced by Roger Ross Williams

Curriculum For Educators 

Current literature is shifting away from a deficit-based perspective, towards an abilities based model acknowledging the importance and power of preferred interests or “affinities” among ASD youth. This guide is meant to facilitate discussion among teachers, therapists and professionals that may challenge assumptions about autism and support their use of interests to encourage social interactions, mitigate anxiety, identify employment possibilities and build meaningful lives.

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