Imagining Autism: Now I See The World (2015)

Saturday 29th April 2017, 6.30pm in Lupino Cinema followed by a panel on Autism and Creativity (Book Free Tickets)

Imagining Autism: Now I See the World is a film emerging from the University of Kent’s AHRC funded project, in which an interdisciplinary team of drama and psychology researchers pioneered novel ways of interacting with this hard to reach condition and in so doing revealed new insights into what Francesca Happe describes as the ‘extraordinary otherness of the autistic mind’. As a dialogue between documentary film and participatory performance arts, Nicola Shaughnessy (Principal Investigator and Producer) and Sarah Turner (Film Maker) create a window into the imaginative world of autism and the perceptual experience of the participants. As an experimental film artist, Turner sought ‘to keep the documentary real, but to privilege the more feeling space.’ The project’s practical methods facilitated communication (verbal and physical), social interaction (with practitioners and peers) and imagination (pretence and play), the key diagnostic elements in autism. Multisensory scenic “environments” (e.g. forest, arctic, space) functioned as intermedial encounters; the film is similarly positioned between two worlds, a key to an alternative sensuality and a means of imaginatively walking in the shoes of the other.

The subtitle (Now I see the World) comes from the words of the boy who is centre-stage, discovering his voice through the microphone and his mother’s testimony closes the film. The participants in the film are co-producers, working through improvisation and intensive interaction with specially trained practitioners.

Whilst the impact narrative as reported in the New Scientist ascribes ‘value’ in terms of empirical evidence of efficacy (statistically significant improvements in language, emotion recognition, empathy and socialization), the film’s exploration of the affective journeys for participating children, teachers, and practitioners practitioners, articulates complementary perspectives, valuing agency, self-expression and aesthetics.

Principal Investigator: Nicola Shaughnessy

Filmmaker: Sarah Turner

Film Editor: Stephen Connolly

Co-Investigators: Melissa Trimingham, Julie Beadle-Brown and David Wilkinson

Puppetry & Design: Melissa Trimingham

Design: Maryjane Stevens and Sam Westbury

Imagining Autism: Now I See the World. Trailer from Nicola Shaughnessy on Vimeo.