Roger Ross Williams and Julie Goldman
Directed by: Roger Ross Williams
Written by: Ron Suskind
Based on: “Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism” by Ron Suskind (2014)
Cinematography by: Tom Bergmann
Music by: Ylan Stark and T. Griffin
Distributed by: The Orchard
Release Date: July 1, 2016
FILM SYNOPSIS: Shortly after he turned three, Owen Suskind, the son of journalist Ron Suskind and his wife Cornelia, stopped speaking. Owen was diagnosed with autism, but as the years passed, his family discovered that he had memorized the dialogue of every Disney animated film. As he has grown to adulthood, Owen has gained vital life skills through his connection to animated movies.
As a parent, finding out that there is something wrong with your child has to be devastating. Letting viewers into that private world cannot be easy either. But “Life, Animated” follows the story of the Suskinds, whose youngest son, Owen, is diagnosed with autism at the age of three. With this diagnosis, Owen basically shuts down, no responding to his family or friends and they find it hard to communicate with him. That is, until they stumble upon the answer: speaking to Owen through his love for animated movies and specifically, Disney films. While other kids are out socializing, Owen is at home drawing Disney characters and coming up with adventures and writing stories about the sidekicks of the Disney movies. And his drawings are amazing. The film centers around Owen as an adult, as he gets ready to graduate and move out of his parent’s home and into an assisted living apartment. Grown up Owen is actually quite articulate and even though his autism is painfully visible, he is able to carry himself rather normal. He puts on meetings with other autistic people his age, watching and discussing Disney films and even getting visits from some of the voice cast of his favorite films. This family is so interesting, that the film’s 90 minute runtime almost doesn’t feel like enough. Interweaving animation depicting the story Owen is working on as well as displaying some of Owen’s childhood, this concept works wonderfully and is used to great effect given the subject matter surrounded around Owen’s love for animated films. Ultimately, that’s what truly sets it apart.
What’s its competition? Where fact based documentaries like “13th” and “O.J.: Made In America” are extremely informative and deliver archival footage and interviews in a way to form peoples opinions and call to action, “Life, Animated” exceeds both in its raw passion and display intimate human emotion. Not only has it been my favorite documentary of the Oscars Challenge thus far, I find myself recommending it to people already. Although I’m skeptical if the Academy shares my sentiment, I’d love to see Owen Suskind’s story win the Oscar.
Previous nominations? This is the first Academy Award nomination for Julie Goldman. This is the second Academy Award nomination for Roger Ross Williams. He was previously nominated for:
- MUSIC BY PRUDENCE (2009)
Winner, Documentary (Short Subject)
// Produced by Roger Ross Williams and Julie Goldman //
// Directed by Roger Ross Williams //
// Dated Viewed: Sunday, January 29th, 2017 // AMAZON PRIME // 42 films – 29 days //