Film produced by SU School of Education professor to get worldwide airing on CNN, May 22
Film produced by SU School of Education professor to get worldwide airing on CNN, May 22May 16, 2005Patrick Farrellpmfarrel@syr.edu
What is autism and is it possible to function in today’s world with this still-mysterious condition? Audiences around the world will learn the answers to these questions and gain a profound understanding of autism with CNN’s television premiere of the film “Autism is a World” on Sunday, May 22, at 8 p.m. (ET).
Professor Douglas Biklen of Syracuse University’s School of Education is a co-producer of the film, which presents an inside look at autism through the eyes of 26-year-old Sue Rubin. Biklen is a nationally known researcher whose studies of autism have advanced the controversial technique known as facilitated communication.
The Academy Award-nominated film was written by Rubin and demonstrates the challenges she overcame in dealing with autism and a false childhood diagnosis of retardation. Rubin, who is in reality highly intelligent, has since become a college student, a tireless disabled-rights activist and an articulate guide to a complex disorder.
Narrated by actress Julianna Margulies, “Autism Is A World” offers an inside look at Rubin’s mind, her daily life and her lifelong struggles with autism-and how, with a means to communicate, she can tell her story. It shows her relaxing and unwinding, and approaching the challenges of living on her own. The film was co-produced and directed by Oscar winner Gerardine Wurzburg.
“There’s no documentary that’s ever been made to my knowledge in which a person with autism whose speech is severely impaired writes the story, tells the story and gives this insider account of autism,” says Biklen. “Sue Rubin’s accomplishment is absolutely distinctive.” According to Biklen, the movie is a cinema verite account of a week of Rubin’s life. He says, “We followed her around for a week and said we want to look at typical experiences she has in a week. It ended up being more than that. So we get to see her narrating her own life, and she’s captivating.”
Biklen and Wurzburg have collaborated previously, with Biklen serving as Wurzburg’s education advisor on the Oscar-winning documentary “Educating Peter” and on “Regular Lives,” which won a blue ribbon from the American Film Institute.
Wurzburg credits Biklen’s leadership in making the idea for “Autism Is A World” into a reality. “Doug and I wanted to do this film 10 or 12 years ago,” she says. “Doug has been busy bringing the notion of facilitated communication to this country, and it represents a community trying to bring change.” With “Autism Is A World,” says Wurzburg, “we are manipulating reality, as an art form does, but we are doing so honestly in order to take the audience on a journey they otherwise wouldn’t get.”
In addition to its Sunday, May 22, debut at 8 p.m., the film will air again that evening at 11 p.m. and 2 a.m., and on Saturday, May 28, at 8 p.m.
For more information on the film, contact Elissa Ewalt at State of the Art Inc., at email@example.com, phone (202) 537-0818). For interview availability, please contact Marea Battle, CNN PR, at firstname.lastname@example.org