Life, Animated

Life, Animated
  • 2016
  • US
  • 89 min
  • PG
  • Directed by: Roger Ross Williams
  • Cast: Owen Suskind, Ron Suskind,
  • UK release: 9 December 2016

At the age of three, Owen Suskind was diagnosed with severe autism and stopped talking. His parents finally realised that his passion for Disney animated movies gave him a way of communicating. Williams doesn't shy away from complex issues such as the limitations of interacting with the world via Disney, but incredibly, as Owen gradually learns to negotiate once impossible-seeming challenges.

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Performance times

Filmhouse, Edinburgh (0.0 miles)

88 Lothian Road, Edinburgh, EH3 9BZ
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Sun 2 Apr

Phoenix Picturehouse, Oxford (0.0 miles)

57–58 Walton Street, Oxford, OX2 6AE
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This inspirational story of how one family learned to communicate with their autistic son through the language of Disney films is a powerful testament to how a make-believe world can help make sense of our real one.

"…a powerful testament to how a make-believe world can help make sense of our real one."

Diagnosed with autism when he was a toddler, Owen Suskind became increasingly uncommunicative, and his family worried they would never be able to connect with him again. But when his father discovered that the Disney films they enjoyed together were actually a path to conversation, their world changed forever. Owen, now an adult about to move into his own apartment and start his adult life, narrates his own story, interspersed with interviews with his parents and older brother Walter. We learn about how he has overcome the challenges and embraced the differences autism presents in his life.

Director Roger Ross Williams, who based his project on Owen's father's book by the same title, combines traditional talking head interviews with some beautiful animated sequences which illustrate the more difficult times in the young man’s childhood. Without glossing over the issues which the family will inevitably face, such as aging parents and their desire to ensure Owen has continued support, Life, Animated is a testament to the positive, pragmatic approach each of them has taken to planning for the future. A true feel-good story in every sense of the word, the final moments which feature Owen in his new workplace will bring a smile to any cinema lover’s face.

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Reviews & features

Life, Animated

5 Dec 20164 stars

Inspirational documentary from Roger Ross Williams focusing on a Disney-loving autistic boy

Oscar-winning documentarian Roger Ross Williams has found the most incredible, inspirational subject in Life, Animated. At the age of three, Owen Suskind was diagnosed with a severe form of autism. His motor skills deteriorated and he soon stopped…

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