Autism in Film

As an independent study at Keene State College, I am making a documentary on how Autism is represented in film. I am really excited about this project so I thought I would share my progress.

First I had to find films with characters with Autism to watch. I decided to limit films to fiction full-length live-action films. No documentaries, no shorts, no animated films, no television shows. That still left me with a long list that keeps growing.

Here is the list of films I plan to watch for this project. Please feel free to post films you think I should add to this list.

The Accountant (2016) 128min | Action, Crime, Drama | 14 October 2016 (USA) Summary: As a math savant uncooks the books for a new client, the Treasury Department closes in on his activities, and the body count starts to rise.
Countries: USALanguages: English, Indonesian, French
Adam (2009) 99min | Comedy, Drama, Romance | 28 August 2009 (USA) Summary: Adam, a lonely man with Asperger's Syndrome, develops a relationship with his upstairs neighbor, Beth.
Countries: USALanguages: English
After Thomas (2006) 93min | Biography, Drama | TV Movie 26 December 2006 Summary: A true story about a couple's struggles to meet the challenges of their son's autism.
Countries: UKLanguages: English
Backstreet Dreams (1990) 96min | Crime, Drama, Romance | 24 August 1990 (Canada) Summary: Petty criminal Dean struggles to raise his autistic son alone, and his life appears to be going off-track until psychologist Stevie arrives to help them both.
Countries: USALanguages: English
Ben X (2007) 93min | Drama, Thriller | 26 September 2007 (Belgium) Summary: As an alternative to getting bullied at school, an autistic teenager retreats into the world of online role-playing games.
Countries: Belgium, NetherlandsLanguages: Flemish, Dutch
The Black Balloon (2008) 97min | Drama, Romance | 6 March 2008 (Australia) Summary: All Thomas wants is a normal adolescence but his autistic brother, Charlie, thwarts his every opportunity. Will Thomas, with the help of his girlfriend, Jackie, accept his brother?
Countries: Australia, UKLanguages: English
Bless the Child (2000) 107min | Crime, Drama, Horror | 11 August 2000 (USA) Summary: Cody, a little girl abandoned by her mother and raised by her aunt, a nurse, is kidnapped. The girl's guardian, aided by an F.B.I. agent, learn that Cody has supernatural abilities, and the abductees are a Satanic cult willing to do anything to gain them.
Countries: USA, GermanyLanguages: English
A Boy Called Po (2016) 95min | Drama, Fantasy | 1 September 2017 (USA) Summary: After his wife dies of cancer, an overworked engineer struggles to care for his son with autism. His son in response to bullying regresses into a fantasy world escape.
Countries: USALanguages: English
The Boy Who Could Fly (1986) 114min | Drama, Fantasy, Romance | 15 August 1986 (USA) Summary: An autistic boy who dreams of flying touches everyone he meets, including a new family who has moved in after their father dies.
Countries: USALanguages: English
Change of Habit (1969) 93min | Crime, Drama, Music | 21 January 1970 (USA) Summary: An incognito nun tries to help a doctor clean up an inner city ghetto, with the pair growing closer as time goes on.
Countries: USALanguages: English
A Child Is Waiting (1963) 102min | Drama | 11 January 1963 (USA) Summary: Psychologist Dr. Matthew Clark is the head of the Crawthorne State Training Institute, one of the first boarding schools for developmentally challenged children. Dr. Clark is sympathetic ... See full summary »
Countries: USALanguages: English
Chocolate (2008) 110min | Action, Drama | 6 February 2008 (Thailand) Summary: An autistic girl with powerful martial art skills looks to settle her ailing mother's debts by seeking out the ruthless gangs that owe her family money.
Countries: ThailandLanguages: Thai, Japanese, English
God's Ears (2008) 117min | Drama | 2008 (USA) Summary: Noah Connelly is a boxer with a tireless opponent: Autism. But when he meets a dancer named Alexia, the two discover together that the toughest fight may be not be of the body, but of the heart.
Countries: USALanguages: English
Cries from the Heart (1994) 120min | Drama | TV Movie 16 October 1994 Summary: Michael, a young autistic boy who has trouble with verbalization but a real talent for technology, uses a computer to plead for help after being molested at his school.
Countries: USALanguages: English
David and Lisa (1962) 95min | Drama | 9 September 1963 (Sweden) Summary: The emotional story of a young man in a mental institution for teens who begins to understand his psychosis in the environment of others with mental and emotional problems. He finds ... See full summary »
Countries: USALanguages: English
David's Mother (1994) 92min | Drama | TV Movie 10 April 1994 Summary: A woman estranged from her husband and family insists on caring for her autistic son alone.
Countries: USALanguages: English
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011) 129min | Adventure, Drama, Mystery | 20 January 2012 (USA) Summary: A nine-year-old amateur inventor, Francophile, and pacifist searches New York City for the lock that matches a mysterious key left behind by his father, who died in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
Countries: USALanguages: English
Family Pictures  | TV Mini-Series (1993) 183min | Drama | TV Mini-Series (1993) Summary: Nina Eberlin comes home to visit her now-divorced parents and while looking through a collection of pictures taken by her father and herself, she reflects on how the pictures illustrate the... See full summary »
Countries: USA, CanadaLanguages: English
Fly Away (2011) 85min | Drama | 26 April 2011 (USA) Summary: The poignant yet humor filled story about a single mother of a teenager severely impacted by autism, forced to reckon with her daughter's future. As her child becomes an adult, what used to... See full summary »
Countries: USALanguages: English
If You Could Say It in Words (2008) 110min | Romance | 8 October 2008 (USA) Summary: An unapologetically romantic tale about an adulterous young woman struggling to rebuild her life and a painter suffering from undiagnosed Asperger's syndrome.
Countries: USALanguages: English
Jack of the Red Hearts (2015) 102min | Drama, Family | 6 May 2015 (USA) Summary: A teenage con artist tricks a desperate mother into hiring her as a live-in companion for her autistic daughter.
Countries: USALanguages: English
The Lighthouse of the Whales (2016) 110min | Biography, Drama, Romance | 16 December 2016 (Spain) Summary: A mother with an autistic child travel from Spain to Argentina looking to help her son to connect with his emotions.
Countries: Spain, ArgentinaLanguages: Spanish
Marathon (2005) 117min | Biography, Drama, Sport | 27 January 2005 (South Korea) Summary: An autistic boy discovers he has a talent for running and with the help of the mother participates in a major marathon.
Countries: South KoreaLanguages: Korean
Mercury Rising (1998) 111min | Action, Crime, Drama | 3 April 1998 (USA) Summary: Shadowy elements in the NSA target a nine-year old autistic savant for death when he is able to decipher a top secret code.
Countries: USALanguages: English
A Mile in His Shoes (2011) 89min | Drama, Family, Sport | TV Movie 5 September 2011 Summary: Mickey Tussler, an autistic pitcher, joins a minor-league baseball team and has a profound effect on the team and manager Arthur "Murph" Murphy over the course of a season.
Countries: CanadaLanguages: English
Miracle Run (2004) 120min | Biography, Drama | TV Movie 9 August 2004 Summary: A mom is alone with her fraternal twin sons after they're diagnosed with autism. She tries to give them a normal childhood.
Countries: USALanguages: English
Molly (1999) 102min | Comedy, Drama, Romance | July 1999 (Norway) Summary: A bachelor becomes the unwilling guardian of his autistic, intellectually disabled sister; then an experimental treatment works a dramatic change in her brain and his attitude.
Countries: USALanguages: English
Mozart and the Whale (2005) 94min | Comedy, Drama, Romance | 2 February 2006 (Turkey) Summary: A love story between two savants with Asperger's syndrome, a kind of autism, whose conditions sabotage their budding relationship.
Countries: USALanguages: English
My Name Is Khan (2010) 165min | Drama | 12 February 2010 (USA) Summary: An Indian Muslim man with Asperger's syndrome takes a challenge to speak to the President of the United States seriously and embarks on a cross-country journey.
Countries: India, USA, United Arab EmiratesLanguages: Hindi, English
Ocean Heaven (2010) 96min | Drama | 18 June 2010 (China) Summary: Explores the subject of parental love and autism in kids.
Countries: ChinaLanguages: Mandarin
Please Stand By (2017) 93min | Comedy, Drama | 26 January 2018 (USA) Summary: A young autistic woman runs away from her caregiver in an attempt to submit her 500-page manuscript to a "Star Trek" writing competition in Hollywood. On her journey there, she must conquer an unknown world full of challenges.
Countries: USALanguages: English, Klingon
Power Rangers (2017) 124min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi | 24 March 2017 (USA) Summary: A group of high-school students, who are infused with unique superpowers, harness their abilities in order to save the world.
Countries: USA, Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico, Canada, New ZealandLanguages: English, Mandarin
Rain Man (1988) 133min | Drama | 16 December 1988 (USA) Summary: Selfish yuppie Charlie Babbitt's father left a fortune to his savant brother Raymond and a pittance to Charlie; they travel cross-country.
Countries: USALanguages: English, Italian
Randy's Canvas (2018) 102min | Comedy, Drama, Romance | 18 September 2018 (USA) Summary: A coming-of-age love story about an aspiring artist with autism.
Countries: USALanguages: English
Roaming (2013) 80min | Drama, Romance | 10 April 2013 (Canada) Summary: A socially introverted game designer named William Borchert has barely left his house in years. Once reunited with Olivia, the girl he had loved since high school, he fights to live with ... See full summary »
Countries: CanadaLanguages: English
Silent Fall (1994) 101min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller | 28 October 1994 (USA) Summary: An autistic boy witnesses his parents' double murder. A controversial therapist seeks to probe the child's mind in order to solve the case.
Countries: USALanguages: English
Snow Cake (2006) 112min | Drama, Romance | 8 September 2006 (UK) Summary: A drama focused on the friendship between a high-functioning autistic woman and a man who is traumatized after a fatal car accident.
Countries: Canada, UKLanguages: English
Son-Rise: A Miracle of Love (1979) 120min | Drama | TV Movie 14 May 1979 Summary: A young couple is overjoyed when they find out that, after having had two girls, the wife is pregnant again, and this time it will be a son. However, the boy turns out to autistic. Unhappy ... See full summary »
Countries: USALanguages: English
Stand Clear of the Closing Doors (2013) 102min | Drama | 5 April 2014 (USA) Summary: The story of an autistic youth named Ricky who, after a particularly difficult day at school, escapes into the subways. It's here that he starts his real journey, on a days-long voyage of ... See full summary »
Countries: USALanguages: English, Spanish
The Story of Luke (2012) 96min | Comedy, Drama | 5 April 2013 (USA) Summary: Sheltered by his grandparents, Luke, a young man with autism, is thrust into a world that doesn't expect anything from him. But Luke is on a quest for a job and true love. And he isn't taking no for an answer.
Countries: USALanguages: English
Suzie (2009) 94min | Drama | 17 April 2009 (Canada) Summary: Suzie, a 58 year old depressed taxi driver on the night shift. On Halloween, she finds a 10 year old autistic boy in the back seat of her taxi with 50$ and an address. As Suzie arrived at ... See full summary »
Countries: CanadaLanguages: French
Temple Grandin (2010) 107min | Biography, Drama | TV Movie 6 February 2010 Summary: A biopic of Temple Grandin, an autistic woman who has become one of the top scientists in the humane livestock handling industry.
Countries: USALanguages: English
What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993) 118min | Drama | 4 March 1994 (USA) Summary: A young man in a small Midwestern town struggles to care for his mentally-disabled younger brother and morbidly obese mother while attempting to pursue his own happiness.
Countries: USALanguages: English
White Frog (2012) 93min | Drama, Romance | 2 August 2013 (Vietnam) Summary: Twilight's Booboo Stewart plays a neglected teen trying to make it through each day after tragedy strikes.
Countries: USALanguages: English
A Brilliant Young Mind (2014) 111min | Drama, Romance | 11 September 2015 (USA) Summary: A socially awkward teenage math prodigy finds new confidence and new friendships when he lands a spot on the British squad at the International Mathematics Olympiad.
Countries: UKLanguages: English, Mandarin

If you wish to see which movies I have watched so far and what I have rated them, then check out my list on Letterboxd.

Shot-by-Shot Analysis

For my Intro to Film Analysis class I had to analyze a scene from the film The Man From U.N.C.L.E. shot-by-shot. We all had to analyze the same scene. Below is my shot-by-shot analysis of the scene.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015) Action, Adventure, Comedy | 116min | 14 August 2015 (USA) 7.3
Director: Guy RitchieWriter: Guy Ritchie, Lionel WigramStars: Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia VikanderSummary: In the 1960s with the Cold War in play, CIA agent Napoleon Solo successfully helps Gaby Teller defect to West Germany despite the intimidating opposition of KGB agent Illya Kuryakin. Later, all three unexpectedly find themselves working together in a joint mission to stop a private criminal organization from using Gaby's father's scientific expertise to construct their own nuclear bomb. Through clenched teeth and stylish poise, all three must find a way to cooperate for the sake of world peace, even as they each pursue their own agendas. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (


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The Scene

The Scene

Shot-by-Shot Breakdown

  1. Long shot of dock. It is dark with natural-key lighting from a spotlight across the water. Solo is coming up the ladder on screen left and crossing to screen right, the camera follows him to keep him left of center by panning right. Non-diegetic music plays in the background.
  2. Medium tracking shot following Solo as he is running towards a truck in the background, only his back is visible until he turns to look behind him. It is dark with natural-key lighting from an overhead light off-screen to the left.
  3. Long shot of Illya in a motorboat as it drives by a man with a machine gun. In the foreground, we see the docks with crossing bars obstructing part of the view. The man in midground is out of focus, and on-screen left with parts of his off-screen. The boat is center screen. Natural-key lighting is from an off-screen light from above left. Diegetic sounds of gunfire can be heard.
  4. Long tracking shot following Illya on the boat as it gets shot up.
  5. Long tracking shot of Illya on the boat.
  6. Medium close up of Illya as he looks over his shoulder.
  7. Long tracking shot of Illya on the boat.
  8. Medium shot of Solo in truck from the side.
  9. Medium Shot of Solo in truck from the front.
  10. Long shot of Illya in boat with Solo in truck in the foreground, out of focus.
  11. Medium shot of Solo in truck from the front.
  12. Extreme close up of Solo turning keys in the ignition.
  13. Extreme close up of radio dial and it lights up.
  14. Medium shot of Solo in truck from the side.
  15. Extreme close up of radio dials as Solo changes the station.
  16. Medium shot of Solo in truck from side.
  17. Close up of newspaper on basket.
  18. Medium shot of Solo in truck from side.
  19. Long shot of Illya in boat with Solo in truck in the forground, out of focus.
  20. Medium shot of Solo in truck from side.
  21. Close up of wine bottle in basket.
  22. Medium shot of Solo in truck from side.
  23. Close up of wine bottle.
  24. Medium shot of Solo in truck from side.
  25. Medium shot of Solo in truck from front.
  26. Medium shot of truck side mirror with the reflection of Solo drinking wine in the mirror. In the background, out of focus, is Illya in the boat.
  27. Medium shot of Solo in truck from side.
  28. Close up of the basket.
  29. Medium shot of Solo in truck from side.
  30. Close up shot of Solo as he tucks in the napkin.
  31. Medium shot of Solo in truck from side.
  32. Close up of Solo.
  33. Extreme close up of sandwich.
  34. Close up of Solo as he takes a bite of the sandwich.
  35. Medium shot of Solo from the side.
  36. Close up of Solo eating. It refocuses to a long shot of Illya on the boat.
  37. Medium long shot of the truck pulling away.
  38. Medium shot of Solo driving truck.
  39. Medium long shot of bad guys on boat making sure Illya is dead.
  40. Medium shot of Solo in truck.
  41. Medium shot of Illya sinking in the water.
  42. Medium shot of Solo in truck.
  43. Medium long shot of boat.
  44. Close up of guy with gun.
  45. Long shot of truck driving off dock and falling onto boat.
  46. Medium shot of Solo in truck as it sinks.
  47. Long shot of truck sinking.
  48. Medium shot of Solo in truck as it sinks.
  49. Long shot of truck sinking.
  50. Medium long shot of truck sinking from underwater.

The Analysis

Solo and Kuryakin have a like-hate relationship which is evident in the scene. Solo is on his own and finds refuge in a truck with food, wine, and music, while Kuryakin is left being shot at and chased by a patrol boat.

The scene comprised mostly of short takes, except for Solo in the truck. Those takes are longer, which creates an absurd feel to the fact that Solo is safe while Kuryakin is still in danger. It also releases the audience from watching repetitive action shots of the boat chase. Ritchie structures several long take scenes where we can see what Solo and Kuryakin are doing in their separate spaces. Solo sits in the truck, and we see Kuryakin in his boat through a window or reflected in a mirror. This setup shows how Solo is reacting to the chase that is taking place not that far from his safe location. The camera changes focus from Solo to the boat chase and then back to Solo, which creates a closer relationship between the two characters. If there had been cuts between shots of Solo and shots of Kuryakin in the boat, it would have been a more disconnected relationship in the scene.

At first, Solo is detached from what is going on. He focuses on his desires and enjoys some wine and a sandwich. It is not until after the boat explodes that the audience sees an emotional response to Kuryakin’s struggles. Solo seems concerned for a second but then decides to drive away, leaving Kuryakin behind. However, he stops, and the audience can see an internal struggle happen, he has grown to like Kuryakin, but at the same time, he is a loner. Finally, he decides to help Kuryakin, but we do not see him come to this decision, it is shown to us when he unexpectedly drives the truck off the dock and onto the patrol boat.

When Solo turned on the truck, and the radio plays, he changes it to a station playing a romantic sounding song sung in Italian. This song later overtakes all other sounds, which strengthens the visual connection between the two characters by removing the sounds that would add audible clutter to the scene.

When Solo is in the truck, and it is sinking in the water, he continues his unconcern nature as he removes the napkin from his shirt and rolls up the window. These shots are still in longer takes than the action shots. The use of long takes here shows that Solo is confident in the choice he has made.

“Suspense” by Lois Weber (1913)

My short film “Suspense” is inspired by Lois Weber’s film of the same name. Lois Weber’s is a testament to women filmmakers and that they can be just as good as or better than male filmmakers. Check out the film below:

Suspense (1913) Short, Drama, Thriller | 600min | 6 July 1913 (USA) 7.3
Director: Phillips Smalley, Lois WeberWriter: Lois WeberStars: Lois Weber, Val Paul, Douglas GerrardSummary: An isolated house in deserted area is too remote for a servant, who leaves a note, quietly exits the back door, and puts the key under the mat. Alone in the house is a mother and her infant. A tramp watches the servant leave, then begins to skulk. The woman sees him outside as he discovers the latchkey. She phones her husband, who's working in town, and he jumps into a car idling in front of his office. He races toward home while the car's owner (and the police) are in pursuit. The tramp grabs a knife and heads up the stairs toward the defenseless woman. Can the husband elude the police long enough to rescue her or will the tramp have his way? Written by <>


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Why I am a Student in my 30s

When I went to college after high school I wanted to study film. For several reasons I was unable to. Instead I decided to study Theatre. Then I switched to English Teaching (Why? I have no idea. I failed those classes.) I then finally settled on Graphic Design. When I graduated, there were very few entry level jobs and they all required experience. Also there were a lot of graphic design graduates looking for jobs that had done internships. I didn’t do an internship because I didn’t own a care and the nearest internship was about a 3 hour drive from where I lived.

I ended up getting married and my husband joined the Air Force. We then started a family. I did some web design for friends and family (and alot for myself) and settled into being a full-time mom. I also tried starting a sewing business. I found I enjoyed sewing as an occasional hobby but not as a full-time job. What I really wanted to do was make films.

Now that my eldest child is going into high school, I decided I wanted to go back to school to study filmmaking. I first applied to the University of New Hampshire (UNH) for their Communication Arts Major: Cinema and Media Arts. However, they turned me away because I already had a BA and they don’t allow a second BA. What? Still confused over that one. So instead I applied to Keene State College (KSC) and have completed my first semester as a Film Studies: Film Production major.

I got all A’s! I felt alive again. I found a part of myself I had lost along the road of life and feel rejuvenated by it. I am so glad I made this change in my life. I can’t wait until the next semester. This summer is going to feel so very long.