Typically, cinema has depicted autistic characters from the outside, looking in with fascination at a magical character who throws out of joint the ‘neurotypical’ lives of those around them. Medical films similarly treated the behaviour of autistic individuals as eccentric and obscure, heralding a wave of anti-psychiatry and activism. A cinema reflective of autism and opening onto the experience of neurodiversity is rare. Yet it has much to offer our understanding of inner and outer life, ushering in new sensory and relational ways of being in the world.
Our season at the Barbican Cinema took place in September 2021 and screened a diverse selection of films, ranging from documentary to animation, and genre-twisting fiction to experimental filmmaking from within the autistic community. We asked how the language of cinema can be challenged and changed by autistic perspectives, and reconsidered the canon of the 'autism' film. The season then enjoyed a mini-tour at venues across the country in January 2022 with relaxed screenings at Lewes Depot, Glasgow Film Theatre, and Manchester HOME.
See below for the season trailer, a short exerpt of an introduction to Mulholland Dr from autistic film critic Georgia Bradburn, and some of our favourite photos from the screenings and the Q&As.
Georgia Bradburn on Mulholland Dr:
In the Press:
'How Mulholland Drive helped me to understand my son's autism' - James Moore, The Independent, 18/09/2021
'Why do they have to be brilliant? The problem of autism in the movies' - Simon Hattenstone, The Guardian, 15/09/2021
'Guest Episode: Autism Through Cinema' Nothing Concrete, Barbican Podcast, 15/09/2021