We are absolutely delighted to be able to say that we've only gone and made our very own podcast!
While the lockdowns of 2020 meant the postponement and cancellation of some of our other activities, we were determined not to let ourselves fall idle! So, we gathered a gang of brilliant up-and-coming researchers, thinkers, creatives and film fans from the autism field and got them talking about films they felt had some kind of autistic connection. Six months later, we've really got into the swing of things and have enjoyed some fascinating discussions (and debates - we don't always agree!) about a whole range of films from Hollywood movies to documentaries via animated short films, TV comedy and art house indies.
And while we were having lots of fun watching these films and debating them, we felt it was high time we got the recordings shaped up and shipped out. And so here we are, with our very first episode, where we consider Paul Thomas Anderson's 2002 surreal romantic comedy Punch-Drunk Love:
The voices on this recording are our PhD student Alex Widdowson (find out more about his project Drawing on Autism here), autistic film critic and filmmaker Georgia Kumari Bradburn, and writer and researcher Dr David Hartley. Their shared admiration of Punch-Drunk Love is evident in their discussion, but they also tackle a variety of questions that this film poses: is Emily Watson's character Lena neurodivergent too? How can we theorise an autistic aesthetic? And what's going on with Barry Egan's shoulders?
New episodes will be released fortnightly and some of the other regular contributors will begin to appear. Both Janet Harbord, project lead on Autism Through Cinema, and John-James Laidlow, creator of various incredible video essays (including this particularly excellent one on 'The Neurotypical Gaze') will join for the discussion on Good Time (2017) and Music (2021) in episode two. Further down the line, we've got some special guest appearances arranged, and plenty of fascinating discussions about films you might not necessarily think have anything to do with autism.
But that's the whole point. We believe that autism is a creative, cultural force that has inspired and sculpted artistic endeavours in a wide variety of ways for many years - and film is no exception to that. In fact, it may be that film and TV are particularly well suited to the expression of autism and other neurodivergences through the movement of the camera and the craft of the soundscape. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast feed to keep up with the debate.
And if you have any thoughts, comments, feedback or, indeed, suggestions for future episodes, feel free to get in touch via our contact form.