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"Autism is a World" to screen on CNN

Academy Award-Nominated Film Details a Life of Autism: Film to Air on CNN Network

Told through the words of a young adult living with autism, Gerardine Wurzburg’s documentary film, “Autism is a World” enlightens our vision of what we have previously thought it may be like to be autistic. The film illuminates that there is a difference between autism and mental retardation and reveals Sue Rubin, a 26-year-old Los Angeles young woman in her comforts and inherent challenges.

The film was nominated for a 2005 Academy Award® for Best Documentary Short Subject. It is daily life that the camera reveals, while interweaving interviews of Sue’s mother, to further explain her thought patterns. Sue says, “When I wasn’t able to communicate, actually, I was a non-person.” However, the nonchalant manner of the filmmaking style, following Sue’s family, her psychologist, and her aids, around in their interactions with Sue, helps to banish pre-conceived notions the audience may have of those living with autism. We don’t feel sorry for her. We feel enlightened, respectful, and happy for Sue.

With actress, Julianna Margulies, reading Sue’s words with such clarification she deftly compliments Sue’s noble ventures as a college honor student, an accomplished writer, and a hero for those living with and without autism. To top it off, Sue communicates predominately through the written, rather than spoken, word, using a hand-held spelling device. Through unusual behaviors as lack of eye contact when meeting strangers to sudden small tantrums, the film details her introvert nature and her frustration.

Wurzburg’s focus on Sue, in particular, stemmed from a personal relationship. The filmmaker comments, "I wanted to do a documentary about a person who was considered mentally incompetent who then finds a way to communicate & demonstrate their intelligence. A friend introduced me to Sue & then we spent time together before deciding to make a film together." The in-depth look into Sue’s mannerisms and mind are hence revealed.

Gerardine Wurzburg, producer and director of the film, made such films as “President Kennedy Has Been Shot” (2003) and “Graduating Peter” (2001). Sue Rubin wrote the story, expressing her constant need to clutch spoons, her dedicated support from her parents and friends, and how she never feels truly alone. This co-production of CNN Productions and State of the Art Inc., Wurzburg’s Washington, D.C.-based production company, airs its television debut this Sunday, May 22 at 8 p.m. (ET). Jennifer Hyde was the supervising producer at CNN Productions. Marea Battle is the publicity contact.

Film and Journalism writer, Michelle Paster is a contributor to Filmfestivals.com and “Film & Video Magazine.”

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