Heartland Film Honors “Life, Animated” with Truly Moving Picture Award
Feature-length documentary “Life, Animated”, directed by Academy Award® winner Roger Ross Williams, has been honored with the Truly Moving Picture Award from nonprofit arts organization Heartland Film. Select theatrically-released titles — entertaining films that do more than just entertain — receive the designation throughout the year. Submissions are received directly from studios and producers for consideration.
“We are honored to receive the Truly Moving Picture Award,” said Williams. “We hope that ‘Life, Animated’ moves us all to realize that people living with autism have so much to offer the world.”
“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.
“An incredibly personal story with unique insights into the minds of people with autism and people without autism, ‘Life, Animated’ won over the hearts of our jury as they unanimously voted to give it our Truly Moving Picture Award,” said Heartland Film Artistic Director Tim Irwin. “This film has the power to inspire audiences through the transformative power of the art form.”
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. 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.
Truly Moving Picture Award winner “Life, Animated” opens in select theaters on Friday, July 1. For additional theaters and to view the trailer, visit www.lifeanimateddoc.com.