HotDocs ’16 – Day 7: Life, Animated

Day 7 - Life_Animated_2

Life, Animated (USA, 2015): An interesting approach at depicting autism without delving on the cause, Life, Animated is smart enough to limit its scope to one individual and avoid generalizations.

The documentary revolves around Owen Suskind, a 23-year old preparing to move on his own. Owen has a moderate autistic disorder and although functional, he is easily overwhelmed by his surroundings. As a child, Owen was on the verge of shutting down, but his parents noticed he used Disney movies to understand emotions and took advantage of it to open channels of communication with him.

Now an adult, Owen still pop animated features regularly, but more as a source of comfort than as a map of the world. As his reality grows more complex, the once reliable Disney movies don’t quite cut it and Owen find himself in uncharted territory.

Using the fly-on-the-wall strategy and animation (Owen came up with a script of his own, populated exclusively with Disney sidekicks), the documentary delivers a positive portrait of living with autism, a rarity as of late. It takes a village and loving parents, but the result justifies the effort. 3.5/5 prairie dogs.

Life, Animated will also play on Thursday, May 5th and Saturday, May 7th.

Author: Jorge Ignacio Castillo

Journalist, film critic, documentary filmmaker, and sometimes nice guy. Member of the Vancouver Film Critics Circle. Like horror flicks, long walks on the beach and candlelight dinners. Allergic to cats.