Owen Suskind is an unlikely film protagonist: autistic, dreamy, awkward, yet genuinely innocent and enthusiastic. The documentary Life, Animated follows this extraordinary young man on the brink of college graduation and independent living, while unveiling his life-long challenges and how he continues to creatively overcome them. This is a modern-day coming-of-age with a twist.
At the age of three, Owen stopped speaking and obsessively watched animated Disney videos. His parents eventually realized that their son understood the world through the actions and dialogue of Disney characters, having memorized every one of the films. Owen‘s own dialogue and behavior was filtered entirely through the lens of characters including Simba, Jafar, and Ariel.
Poignantly, the film captures Owen as he conducts the Disney Club for his college classmates and has a fated romance with one of them. The audience feels his emotional exhilaration and pain through their relationship arc, just like watching any good love story.
The documentary was inspired by father Ron Suskind’s best-selling memoir about raising his extraordinary son (Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism). Film Director Roger Ross Williams spent two years with the Susskind family, capturing Owen’s life where the book left off. He interweaves Disney clips and songs with clever original animation to create a magical film.
The festival-award-winning film opens in LA on July 1 at The Landmark. Click here to see the trailer.
Directed by Roger Ross Williams
Produced by A&E Indiefilms