Hot Docs 2016: Life, Animated – Roger Ross Williams

 

If there is a more honest, emotional and human film at this year’s Hot Docs Film Festival, I can’t imagine what it could be. Owen Suskind, the young autistic man who is the focus of William’s objective eye, is a brilliant soul, and we learn through the film, his story, his life, and his passion.

And that passion is for Disney films, the animated classics we all grew up with allowed Owen to interact with the world, to understand his own life, and allow him to communicate with those that love him, his father, his mother, and his loyal brother Walter.

As Owen navigates the pits and pratfalls of the world around him, his parents ruminate, and worry about what will become of their beloved boy when they aren’t around for him anymore; his brother takes on those worries as well, while trying to advise and help his sibling.

Filled with emotion, and using Disney films to augment that, allowing us to experience first hand how Owen interacts with the world, this one touches the heart with its honest approach, and it’s unflinching look at the young man’s life.

To see him step bravely into the trials that the world will present him, not only elicits smiles, but also inspires, and that is an amazing thing.

Williams film, inspired by Ron Suskind’s book about his son, the film follows Owen as he makes the first moves into adulthood – getting an education, pursuing a relationship, a job, getting a place of his own, and all the wonder, joy and yes, pain, that comes with all of those things.

Filled with brilliant animation that tells Owen’s own story, this documentary is heartwarming, conversation-making, and in the end, as magic as the films that allowed Owen to connect with the world.

Life, Animated has its international premiere tonight at the Isabel Bader theatre at 9:15, followed by screenings on Thursday May 5 at the Hart House at 12:30pm and Saturday, May 7 at 1pm.

See this one. It truly is magic, like the very best Disney films.

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