‘Life, Animated’ enlivens audience, shines light on Autism

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Cassidy Viox

‘Life, Animated,’ the heartwarming tale of a disabled adult, was a blessing that touched everybody in the crowd at Missouri Theatre on the first night of True/False Film Festival. The half-animated, half-documentary film mixed fictional life lessons of Disney movies with the cold reality of living with autism to create a story with a deep message.
The film begins by highlighting the childhood of Owen Suskind and the years of difficulties that Suskind’s parents had to go through while dealing with a child diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. In his teenage years, he struggled with social skills until his parents enrolled him into a school for adults with autism. The three years he spent at the school allowed him to make friends and learn valuable life skills that prepared him for a more independent life. Throughout the hardship and struggles, Suskind is able to rely on his animated films as his comfort.
The film constantly emphasized the importance of animated Disney movies to Suskind and how the movies help him understand complex life lessons such as facing fears, standing up for himself and learning to love. Suskind used his passion for Disney to create his own story called “Protector of the Sidekicks” which unites multiple Disney sidekicks and himself as the heroes who save the day and encourages all of the other sidekicks of the world to keep fighting for themselves.
Suskind’s ability to crack jokes and tug at the heartstrings at the same time led to tears and giggles all over the theatre. The way Suskind’s family, friends and doctors interacted with him showed the compassion they had and taught a valuable lesson on treating disabled individuals as equals.
Overall, ‘Life, Animated’ had a childish feeling that incorporated many mature concepts. Not only was I given the point of view of the people that cared for Suskind and worked with him, but I was also able to see what Suskind was thinking through his personal story of sidekicks.
The progress that Suskind made and continues to make today is a Disney miracle and a dream come true. Suskind’s courage and strength throughout the film is inspiring and gives an entirely new perspective of what it it’s like to be autistic. The documentary was a glimpse at the complexity of autism and the challenges that the autistic go through every day.
See the film this Sunday, March 6 at 7:30 p.m. at Jesse Auditorium.