At the National Autistic Society, we recognise that mainstream films, primetime TV dramas and documentaries have immense power to change public perceptions. It’s why we choose to work with directors, producers and actors on productions that feature autistic lives. By consulting on scripts, our autistic and expert reviewers are able to help writers and producers steer clear of stereotypes about autism and ensure autistic characters are realistic and fully rounded, not one-dimensional caricatures.
The phenomenal award-winning documentary The Reason I Jump, directed by Jerry Rothwell, goes on UK release on 18 June. The film is based on the memoir of Japanese autistic writer Naoki Higashida, first published in Japan in 2007. It was then translated by Keiko Yoshida and her husband, author David Mitchell, and published in the UK in 2013.
The film has been a long time in the making and we’ve been delighted to be part of this journey, with its fantastic and passionate production team.
We first met producers Stevie Lee and Jeremy Dear, who feature in the documentary with their autistic son Joss, at the end of 2014 when they began their research. We kept in contact with them over the years until, in 2019, we were able to host the first consultation group to help with the development of their film. Later in the process, we were absolutely delighted to be invited to see and give feedback about the first cut of the documentary. Leo Capella, one of our autistic colleagues and reviewers, was also taken on as a consultant to develop the educational resources which accompany the film.
What the film’s about
This is a game-changing documentary, probably the most beautiful and powerful film about the lives of non-speaking autistic people ever to be released. The mesmerising soundtrack, which conveys the intense sensory worlds of the five young autistic people featured, is by award-winning composer, Nainita Desai. Our ambassador Elisabeth Wiklander, who is autistic and a cellist with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, is the featured cellist.
We’re really hopeful that this film, which will be available to watch online and around the world, will help to increase understanding of what it means to be autistic.
As Leo said in an interview he and Stevie did for our Your Autism magazine in the Spring: “There is this myth that autistic people can be ‘trapped in their world’ because of a lack of empathy. The reality is that, in whatever way, we’re trying to engage with the world. I think the cinematography on The Reason I Jump is going to give an insight; we are trying to engage, we are interpreting the world. Don’t think that we’re – to quote the title of a science fiction book – in a Cave of Steel; we’re actually here.”