“Life, Animated,” the acclaimed, award-winning original documentary feature film directed by Academy Award(R) winner Roger Ross Williams, will have its television premiere on A&E Network on Saturday, January 7 at 8pm ET/PT.
Produced by A&E IndieFilms and Motto Pictures, “Life, Animated” is the story of Owen Suskind, a young autistic man who as a boy was unable to speak until his family found a way to communicate through classic Disney movies. Using unconventional interview techniques and three different types of original animation, Williams brings Owen’s journey to the screen, exploring how his empathy for Disney animated characters gave him the means to understand his feelings and to interpret reality. Williams’s film is triumphant portrait of human resourcefulness – and indeed – what it means to be human.
The subject of his father Ron Suskind’s New York Times bestseller, Owen was a thriving three year old who suddenly and inexplicably went silent – and for years after remained unable to connect with other people or to convey his thoughts, feelings or desires. Over time, through repeated viewings of Disney classics like THE LITTLE MERMAID and THE LION KING, Owen found useful tools to help him to understand complex social cues and to re-connect with the world around him.
“Life, Animated” evocatively interweaves classic Disney sequences with verite scenes from Owen’s life in order to explore how his identification and empathy for characters like Simba, Jafar, and Ariel gave him a means to understand his feelings and allowed him to interpret reality. Beautiful, original animations offer rich insights into Owen’s fruitful dialogue with the Disney oeuvre as he imagines himself heroically facing adversity as a member in a tribe of sidekicks.
“Life, Animated” won a number of awards during its film festival run, including the 2016 Sundance Film Festival Directing Award in the US Documentary competition. The film also won the Audience Award at the Full Frame, San Francisco International Film Festival, Nantucket Film Festival, Berkshires Film Festival, and Telluride Mountainfilm.