Drawing on Autism

Alex Widdowson, PhD Candidate

Drawing on Autism is an investigation into the ethics of creating animated documentaries. As a non-autistic filmmaker, representing an autistic participant, I needed to be mindful of the well-rehearsed and problematic tropes about autism. These tropes seem to say more about the desires and needs of neurotypical audiences than they do about their autistic subjects. Moreover, animation presents a distinct set of ethical dilemmas.


Without the mechanical indifference of a camera, the act of observation is substituted for representation. A mode of representation where the artist is responsible for how the documentary participant looks, where they are, and what they do. Through collaborative feedback I attempt to share these responsibilities with my participant, while making use of positional and textual reflexivity to equip my audiences so they can scrutinise my documentary interventions. 


Drawing on Autism Nomination.jpg

Drawing on Autism has been nominated for Best Animated Film and Best Doctoral or Early Career Film of the Year at the 2021 Research in Film Awards from the AHRC.

Commenting on his nominations, Alex says "Being nominated for two awards by the AHRC is a tremendous honour and I cannot thank them enough. I have started developing a much more ambitious film that expands upon the collaborative methods used for this project. I am grateful to the AHRC for their recognition, spurring me on as I embark on a daunting new project."

The winners will be announced on the 1st December 2021. Good luck Alex!