Sunday 28th April, 6 – 7.15pm

Gulbenkian Cinema 

Certified 15, and not recommended for people younger than this.

Abandoned by his birth parents and presumed incompetent, DJ Savarese (“Deej”) found not only a loving family but also a life in words, which he types on a text-to-voice synthesizer. As he makes his way through high school and dreams of college, he confronts the terrors of his past, society’s obstacles to inclusion, and the sometimes paralyzing beauty of his own senses. In his advocacy on behalf of other nonspeaking autistics, he embraces filmmaking and poetry, and discovers what having a voice can truly mean.

In this first-of-its-kind collaboration between a veteran filmmaker and a nonspeaking autistic, Robert Rooy and DJ Savarese share editorial control as they attempt to navigate the challenges of representing autism. Deej, the result of this often difficult partnership, is a story told largely from the inside, by DJ – not by his parents or autism experts or even the camera. At its core, Deej reflects the sort of participation that disability rights advocates insist upon: “Nothing about us without us.”

Positive Triggers

Disability and communication, family relationships, romantic relationships, growing up, breaking barriers, freedom, adoption, education, creative writing and poetry.

Negative Triggers

CW: There is some mention of Deej being a survivor of assault, possibly sexual assault given the context of a future scene of PTSD. There is also mention of Deej’s birth mother trying to drown him, her use of alcohol and her prostitution.

Total Black out (audience)? : No

What is the audience lighting level?: Medium

Flashing Lights or strobe: No

Loud sounds/noises (inc. music): Some loud verbalising from Deej, some audience whooping and cheers when Deej graduates.

Repetitive noises: Short bursts of applause, some individual clapping

Drums: No

High-pitched tones: Tone to signify end of class at high school, 2-3 seconds

Unexpected sounds (eg. Crash): some whooping and cheering during graduation session

Is there background sound/music: Yes 

Interactivity and Participation

Audience invited on stage: no

Artist goes into the audience: no

Workshop/manual activity: no

Are participants required to:

Walk around: No

Undertake directed movement: No

Read: There is some writing providing information about locations and timespans but they aren’t crucial to the overall understanding of the film. There are also occasional subtitles for when people are talking quietly or when Jen speaks.

Draw: No

Construct things: No

Paint: No

Sing: No

Participate in pairs or groups with others: No

 Attention Span Information

Is there an intermission?: No

Do the audience need to sit in one place during the show: No

Is it okay for audience members to make a noise/move around during the show (ie: a relaxed screening): Yes

Is there an introduction and if so how long is it: No

Senses, Emotions and Effects

Are there any distinctive smells: No

Are there any other special effects (eg: smoke machine, bubbles etc): No

Does it involve exploring any textures, and if so please specify: no

Are balloons used?: no

Do any of the characters in your show express anger: There is a little anger motivated by anxiety/panic and some frustration.

To what extent is the film dialogue driven?: Quite a bit