Presented By:Roger Ross Williams
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind and his wife, Cornelia, had two healthy boys, Walt and younger brother Owen. One day, Owen started to withdraw, and that continued until he stopped communicating altogether. He was happy watching Disney animated films, now called an “affinity” by people knowledgeable about the Autism spectrum, but didn’t engage with anything else.
After a couple of small clues, one day Owen’s father picked up a puppet of the character Iago from Disney’s Aladdin, and spoke in the best Iago voice he could muster. For the first time in years, Owen talked. “Iago” opened a door.
Adapted from Ron Suskind’s remarkable and often harrowing book of the same name, Academy Award-winning filmmaker Roger Ross Williams has crafted a moving and often hilarious movie about Owen and his family’s journey. They are smart people with resources not everyone has, but their commitment to each other in the face of something random and horrifying is awesome to behold. Using lessons learned from Disney animators, Owen tells his parents he sees himself as a sidekick, and that’s a noble role because the sidekick helps the hero “fulfill his destiny.” Most importantly, the Suskind family exemplifies Owen’s dictum that “no sidekick gets left behind.” (Jed Dietz)
Roger Ross Williams (expected for our first screening) is the director of God Loves Uganda, which premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival to critical acclaim, and Music by Prudence, which won the 2009 Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject) and screened within MDFF 2010. Williams was the first African American to win an Academy Award for directing or producing a film (short or feature).