From Academy Award® winning director Roger Ross Williams, LIFE, ANIMATED is the inspirational story of Owen Suskind, a young man who was unable to speak as a child until he and his family discovered a unique way to communicate by immersing themselves in the world of classic Disney animated films. This emotional coming-of-age story follows Owen as he graduates to adulthood and takes his first steps toward independence.
The subject of his father Ron Suskind’s New York Times bestseller, Owen was a thriving three year old who suddenly and inexplicably went silent – and for years after remained unable to connect with other people or to convey his thoughts, feelings or desires.
The website for Suskind’s book, Life, Animated opens with this statement: “Our son Owen, like so many with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), has an ‘affinity’—in his case, a deep connection to the Disney movies he’s watched countless times to make sense of an often-bewildering world. We wrote about Owen in Life, Animated, and received scores of letters describing affinities from anime to Minecraft to maps.”
Over time, through repeated viewings of Disney classics like THE LITTLE MERMAID and THE LION KING, Owen found useful tools to help him to understand complex social cues and to re-connect with the world around him.
LIFE, ANIMATED evocatively interweaves classic Disney sequences with verite scenes from Owen’s life in order to explore how his identification and empathy for characters like Simba, Jafar, and Ariel gave him a means to understand his feelings and allowed him to interpret reality.
Beautiful, original animations offer rich insights into Owen’s fruitful dialogue with the Disney oeuvre as he imagines himself heroically facing adversity as a member in a tribe of sidekicks.
Owen’s story is a moving testament to the many ways in which stories can serve as a means of persevering through the dark times, leading us all toward the light.
"The viewer will leave the theater feeling proud of Owen, too. I found his journey through the darkness of glop and back into the light, with the help of the timeless Disney stories, inspirational for my own journey through the glop of anxiety and depression, loneliness and bullying, isolation and deprivation. Owen has saved his own life with stories and, in the process, become a storyteller in his own right."
"Life, Animated" doesn't try to give a cure-all to autism. It shows how one family approached the complex puzzle with the help of Simba, Sebastian and Lumiere."
"Life, Animated" makes fascinating points, about the power of cinema, about meeting our loved ones where they are and, as Ron says, about who gets to decide what constitutes a meaningful life."
"The film is tender and patient, as fascinated by the challenges of daily life as it is by the dramatic medical mystery at its heart."