Spectrum Fest: Films from the Autism Spectrum [Fantasia International Film Festival 2017]

Spectrum Productions works with a day camp in Montreal which offers filmmaking mentorship and classes for people on the autism spectrum.  Spectrum Fest was a presentation of some of the films made by participants over the years for the first time at Fantasia.  It was a free screening for anyone interested in going and it was hoot.

The shorts varied in length and quality but were all filled with passion and creativity.  Each of them showing that with effort, doing what you love is possible.  Of course a few of the shorts really stood out for one reason or the other.  The early animation shorts were odd and sometimes flat out bizarre but never boring.  They show that animation is accessible even if you might not think you can.  The live-action shorts were all different from one another, showing individuality in each creator and how they each bring different talents to the plate.  The humor these creators show in the shorts is infectious.

Some of the best ones presented were definitely the stop-motion animation shorts with work from Jordan Astles, a very talented young man who with extra coaching and film school could easily become a big name in the art.  His short Lego Peter’s Kitchen Disaster was incredibly well-made and fun to watch.  His other work in some of the other shorts such as New Age of Heroes added a lot to the live-action/stop-motion animation hybrid.  His work is fantastic and his passion shows through the screen and when he talks to audiences about his work.  He’s one to watch for sure.

Spectrum Fest may seem like a gimmick to some, but it’s more than that.  It’s an event that serves to showcase talents most would hear about or ever seen any work from otherwise.  It serves as a launching point for young people who can learn and show their passion through cinema, even when some of them are non-verbal.  Their brains are as creative if not more as people not on the spectrum and they can create pieces that are absolutely genius without ever saying a word in some cases.  They show that cinema is a medium accessible to all and that limitations are only something that needs to be broken through to keep evolving and doing what one is passionate about.  The young filmmakers, actors, animators showcased here are all talented and with proper coaching and schooling could, and should, go far in this industry.