Autism: A Curious Case of the Human Mind (2016) – documentary film review
Autism: A Curious Case of the Human Mind (I can’t keep writing that every time so from now I’ll refer to it as ‘Autism’) is an hour long, British independent film made by a team of film students for an incredible £370 budget (take note James Cameron). In fact, after release, the documentary actually raised more for autism charities than the amount that was put into the film. Standing ovation.
So it’s currently doing the film festival rounds and the next planned screening for Autism is at the Carmarthen Bay Film Festival on May 11th, where – excitingly – it’s nominated for Best Documentary Feature (I’ve got my fingers crossed). Let’s learn more.
In an attempt to learn more about his brother’s condition, Tom Griffiths sets out to speak to people who experience autism in their day to day lives. Speaking to parents and individuals on the spectrum themselves, Tom attempts to build a better personal understanding of the neurological condition and the community that surrounds it.
As well as hosting the documentary, aspiring film maker Tom is also the writer, director and producer alongside Veronica J. Valentini – (I do like her name) and they made a great job. The high standard of quality, for me, was evident from the beginning and it felt – though I’m not sure if this a compliment or not – like a genuine BBC documentary. It was extremely well made for such a low budge film and luckily in a format I always enjoy for this kind of thing – archive footage, interviews and narration – I thoroughly enjoyed the 58 minutes.
Of course it’s important to note that Tom and the team made the documentary with an explicit intention of Tom learning more about his brother Owen, how autism effects him and hopefully end up building an even stronger relationship with him. The personal edge in Autism adds a lot to it and it felt, quite obviously emotional at times, especially when Tom spoke about his childhood memories. This might be a good time to say how much I liked the music too. Especially the opening and exit credits, which were affecting and moving.
Obviously conditions such as autism are spoken about more today than ever before and documentaries such as these are important because as much as we do know, we can always learn more. Speaking to people who have the condition is about as good as it gets as far as educating ourselves go and the film shows intimate portrayals with autistic people.
Tom Griffiths shows himself to be a very capable host. Making good rapport with his interviewees, he came across sincere, genuine and professional. Hopefully I won’t sound
too patronising by drawing attention to his young age (19 at the time of the filming). To get the most out of a conversation with someone, you need some likability. Just look at Louis Theroux – he’s made an entire journalistic career making friends with convicts and drug addicts (and Jimmy Savile but we don’t like to talk about that one). Tom is very likable.
All in all this is a very thoughtful, interesting documentary with the added twist of including the complex relationship between two different brothers. Well written and made, it’s a pleasure to watch.
Look out for it and watch the trailer here –