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.
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.
The #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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
We really enjoyed the #Autfest2018.
Apart 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.
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