(NEW YORK, NY – Jan. 2, 2007) – Autism Every Day, a powerful documentary that takes viewers inside the lives of families struggling to raise children with autism, has been selected by the Sundance Institute as a special screening film at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. The Sunday, January 21, world premiere of the 44-minute film -- which will be screened out of competition -- will be followed by a special autism awareness panel featuring the filmmakers and parents who appear with their children in the film. Additional screenings will take place January 22 and 27.
A 12-minute version of Autism Every Day was first produced for, and screened at, "A New Decade for Autism," a
fundraising event held May 9, 2006, in New York to benefit Autism Speaks and the New York Center for Autism Charter School. The film was intended to be shown one time only, but was subsequently broadcast by Don Imus on his MSNBC and nationally syndicated radio programs. It quickly spread virally through the Internet, first among members of the autism community and then beyond, generating tens of thousands of views on various web sites and blogs.
The tremendous online popularity of the documentary led Autism Speaks to create the longer, 44-minute version of the film that included additional families and their compelling stories.
Autism Every Day is a truthful, unvarnished portrayal of the 24-hour-a-day challenges faced by families as they confront the heartbreak of autism with uncompromising hope and unconditional love. The film was directed by Lauren Thierry of the October Group and co-produced by Ms. Thierry and Eric Solomon of Milestone Video. Funding for the film was provided by Autism Speaks. Autism Speaks co-founders Bob and Suzanne Wright served as executive producers of the film. Autism Speaks Senior Vice President Alison Singer served as Executive in Charge of Production.
“We are honored to have Autism Every Day selected for special recognition in this year's Sundance Film Festival, reflecting the Sundance Institute's on-going tradition of screening films that reflect the most important issues facing our society,” said Bob and Suzanne Wright. “This film provides a vivid window into the unique challenges -- the hopes and frustrations -- of the hundreds of thousands of individuals and families like ours affected by autism in this country.”
“My family has been touched directly by the autism epidemic and living with the day-to-day struggles and joys was enough motivation for us to get this film made,” said Thierry, whose son Liam is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Autism Every Day wrenchingly follows a cross-section of families -- families representing the upper and lower end of the financial spectrum and different ethnic backgrounds-- whose lives have been turned inside out by an epidemic that the Centers for Disease Control estimates is diagnosed in 1 in 166 children. Each family's story blends together in an unrelentingingly similar quilt: parents who have had to both quit careers and borrow outlandish sums of money to pay for therapies and schools; the staggering reality of letting go of traditional dreams for their children -- little league, trips, dating -- in exchange for the joy of a child finally being able to brush his teeth at age 6 or a 9 year-old who has learned to say ‘l love you, mommy.'
The documentary's opening chilling montage shows children struggling to communicate, screaming, and one child dashing down the street unaware of the speeding traffic ahead. A family with three children on the autism spectrum recounts having to quit friendships with people who don't understand the 24/7 demands of a five year-old who has yet to utter a single word or the 40-50 hours of therapies that are not reimbursed by insurance. A hole in the roof goes unrepaired for two years as they borrow yet again against their home.
As one mother so eloquently explains, “He is trying so hard to stay inside himself and I am trying so hard to pull him out. I can never die; I have to live forever.” But Autism Every Day also captures the unconditional, powerful love of the exhausted, not to be broken parents. Its candid portrait somehow reminds us that where there is love there is hope and that hope brings with it the joys of even the smallest successes.
The 2007 Sundance Film Festival runs January 18-28 in Park City, Sundance, Salt Lake City and Ogden, Utah. The following are the screening times and locations for Autism Every Day:
Sunday, January 21, 10:00 a.m., Holiday IV
Monday, January 22, 2:30 p.m., Holiday I
Saturday, January 27, 7:30 p.m., Broadway 6
Autism is a complex brain disorder that inhibits a person's ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by extreme behavioral challenges. Autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed in one in 166 children, affecting four times as many boys as girls. The diagnosis of autism has increased tenfold in the last decade. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called autism a national public health crisis whose cause and cure remain unknown.
ABOUT AUTISM SPEAKS
Autism Speaks is dedicated to increasing awareness of the growing autism epidemic and to raising money to fund scientists who are searching for a cure. It was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright. Bob Wright is Vice Chairman and Executive Officer, General Electric, and Chairman and CEO, NBC Universal. Autism Speaks and Cure Autism Now (CAN) recently announced plans to combine operations, bringing together the two leading organizations dedicated to accelerating and funding biomedical research into the causes, prevention, treatments and cure for autism spectrum disorders; to increasing awareness of the nation's fastest growing developmental disorder; and to advocating for the needs of affected families. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit www.autismspeaks.org.