I never thought I’d see the day when I would attend a film festival dedicated to showcasing films about autism. On April 22-23, The Autism Society of America launched it’s first AutFest Film Festival in the City of Orange in honor of Autism Awareness Month. Themed “Spectrum to Screen” festival organizer Matt Asner, son of the legendary Ed Asner, both parents of children in the autism spectrum disorder (ASD), reached into his network of entertainment and industry professionals to grace this inaugural event.
The guest list did not disappoint with Hollywood heavyweights, including The Accountant’s Ben Affleck, and Peter Doctor and Jonas Rivera, the Oscar-winning creative talents behind Pixar’s Inside Out.
There is a whole body of creative work about autism that the entertainment industry has capitalized on that can inform, misinform, entertain, and profit from. There are hits and misses, mainly in the portrayal and content of what autism is. Film can inspire and visual stories can influence policy and opinions. In this regard, there is nothing that peaks my interest more than this platform to promote the workforce development of persons with ASD. What got me excited about AutFest is that it encourages and brings together individuals with autism and industry personnel to network and explore potential partnerships.