SUMMARY: An animated documentary on autism, made up of original designs by and interviews with autistic contributors.
WHY IT’S HERE: Director Tim Webb’s animated documentary on autism was created for Channel 4’s ‘Disabling World’ season, designed to aid viewers’ understanding of disabilities and their sufferers. Keen to give a voice to actual autistic people, as no film had yet done, Webb worked for a year with autistic adults and children and their families and carers. Although this limited Webb to working with the highest functioning 10% of those with the condition, the results give a more relatable and personal glimpse of autism than interviews with those speaking for the autistic ever could have.
Webb gives ‘A is for Autism’ the subtitle ‘A Collaboration’, acknowledging that a good percentage of the creative work for the film was done by the documentary’s subjects themselves. All of the designs for the animation are taken from pictures drawn by Webb’s autistic collaborators, and the fascinating interviews help explain what we are seeing on screen and understand the difference in how the world is perceived by different autistic people. The piano and flute music on the soundtrack was specially recorded by two autistic performers and some of the music was composed by the pianist as well. ‘A is for Autism’ gives us an extremely effective look into a world that is difficult to imagine for those who do not have autism, but ultimately it helps us to understand those with the condition by being one of the first films to give them a platform on which to discuss the issues.