Favorite Highlights from L.A. #AUTFEST2018

Last April we attended #Autfest2018. The event took place in Beverly Hills, California. Similar to last year, this 2018  event included special screenings,  discussion panels, photo opportunities and a closing VIP award ceremony. For those who missed it, here is a quick recap of our favorite highlights from L.A. #AUTFEST2018.


What is #Autfest

Celebrating autism awareness “from spectrum to screen,” #AutFest Film Festival is the only film festival dedicated to audiences and filmmakers with autism. For the past two years, the Festival was held in Los Angeles, California.


The brainchild of the Asner family with the Autism Society #Autfest’s mission is to promote autism awareness and encourage the inclusion of individuals with autism in society. What is unique about this festival is that it does so through entertainment.

While the event isn’t free, the purchased tickets help cover the event costs. And it also raises much-needed donations for the Autism Society.


jeff banner

 Beverly Hills Venue

This year the festival took place at the L.A’s  Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills. The newly refurbished venue combines a central location with a comfortable state-of-the-art comfort seating for attendees.

Surprisingly, the parking was easy. We parked in a garage right next to the theater entrance. Furthermore, we were able to find theater seats with a clear view of the stage.

theaterThe #Autfest2018 Poster

First of all, I wanted to mention the beautiful poster designed for the event. The festival  invited students and  graphic designers to create a unique poster  covering the theme of “spectrum to screen.”

This year’s winner was  Cynthia Abigail Romero. Her illustration became the official poster and was printed on t-shirts and postcards.


#Autfest2018 Movies

The two-day festival screened six movies including Roman J. Israel Esq, Barfi, Dina, and Randy’s Canvas.

While we liked them all, we did have chose two favorites. The first was  Power Rangers (2017) about five teens ( one with autism)  who get to save the world from an evil entity. The film tackles bullying and friendship.

The second was Please Stand By (2017) that featured Dakota Fanning as a young woman on the spectrum who dreams of becoming a screenwriter. The film focuses on her journey from San Francisco to L.A. to pitch her  Star Trek story.


autfest movie

#Autfest2018 Featurettes

This year’s  #Autfest2018 seven featurettes were equally noteworthy. Here again, we found ‘Circumstantial’  about a homeless man in L.A. written by Jesse Rapaport and ‘Sisterly’ about the bond between two sisters very moving.


#Autfest2018 Panels

Watching the movies and featurettes is good enough to attend essential. However, the panels seem to be the main event. After all, where else can you meet Hollywood stars and directors actually answering questions in a small and intimate forum?

power rangers panel

This year’s #Autfest2018  had several panels including one addressing “Love and Relationships.”  The Power Rangers one had actor RJ Cyler, who played Billy Cranston, the Blue Ranger with autism. The  Please Stand By Me panel was equally interesting with director Ben Lewin, writer Michael Golcamo, and autism consultant Elaine Hall.

jeff with power ranger

However,  the two panels that grabbed our attention were  Atypical and  The Good Doctor.
Moderated by People magazine reporter Kara Warner, the Netflix Atypical had Robia Rashid  Jennifer Jason Leigh, Brigette Lundy-Paine, Keir Gilchrist, Nik Dodani, Layla Weiner  Nikki Gutman;  Mary Rohlich,  David Finch, and autism consultant Michelle Dean.


atypical star

For those who have never seen Atypical, it is a well-written series about  Sam, an 18-year old on the autism spectrum who struggles with becoming an adult.

atypical panel

The ABC’s The Good Doctor ‘ panel had creator David Shore, Richard Schiff, Nicholas Gonzalez, and Autism consultant Melissa Reiner. The series plot follows Dr. Shaun Murphy, a young surgeon with autism at the prestigious St. Bonaventure hospital’s surgical unit.


jeff with sister

The #Autfest2018 Awards

As usual, an important part of the #Autfest2018 was the awards ceremony. Past #AutFest honorees include Ben Affleck, Pixar’sPete Docter and  Jonas Rivera.


autfest awards

This year the awards  (personally handed out by Ed Asner! ) went to :

  • Film: Randy’s Canvas, directed by Sean Michael Beyer
  • Documentary: Dina, directed by Antonio Santini and Dan Sickles
  • Featurette: Sisterly, directed by Nina Vallado
  • Performance: Adam Carbone, Randy’s Canvas
  • Autistic Filmmaker: Abbey Romeo, The Girl Inside

abc awards

Both   ABC’sThe Good Doctor,” and Netflix’s Atypical received the caveated Spotlight Award for their portrayal of autism in a favorable light.

Sony Studios  ( Atypical, The Good Doctor) snagged the visionary award.  Representing  Sony Pictures Entertainment were Jeff Frost, President of Sony Pictures Television Studios, and Co-Presidents of Sony Pictures Television Chris Parnell and  Jason Clodfelter.

sony awards

In Summation

We really enjoyed the #Autfest2018.

autism societyApart from the fact, the venue was easily accessible; the films selected depicted the autism community well. We found the screenings and the panels well organized. Furthermore, everyone attending was friendly, and our son got a rare chance to chat with some of the actors he admires. Between meeting old friends, making new ones, inspiring speeches,  and multiple photo ops these were certainly two days well spent.




Favorite Highlights from L.A. #AUTFEST2018 pin

If you live in the L.A. area and haven’t attended the last two #Autfest events, make sure you come to the next one. Be sure to follow the Fb group as well as the public announcements for details. Needless to mention, both my son and I will be there too.

Disclosure: My son and I attended AutFest2018 as press members but all opinions are our own













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A reformed dentist who gave up pulling teeth to show her son the world! Need tips on how to #travel with #autism? Follow me on Instagram & Facebook
Margalit Sturm Francus

Margalit Sturm Francus

A reformed dentist who gave up pulling teeth to show her son the world! Need tips on how to #travel with #autism? Follow me on Instagram & Facebook

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