Loyola University Maryland


Environmental Film Series: Redemption

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7:00pm, Senator Theater
Film Screening: Bluebirds Fly, Love and Hope on the Autism Spectrum (Arnold, 2015)
 Presented by director Cherry Arnold with post-screening Q&A. 
 * Baltimore premiere. 
Sponsored by Film Studies & Messina

About the Event:

Bluebirds Fly, Love and Hope on the Autism Spectrum profiles three families with autistic children in Providence, RI. At the screening, scheduled for November 11th, 2015, writer/director Cherry Arnold will introduce the film and afterward answer questions. She will also visit a class in the Department of Communication to talk about the making of the film, discuss directing and producing, and share what she has learned about autism.

We are fortunate to be a part of a new initiative, organized by Professor Nicholas Miller of the English Department, in which certain films for Loyola’s courses are shown at the historic Senator Theater. A documentary about families struggling to provide education and support for autistic children is both worthy and timely. Autism is now the most widespread developmental disorder—the Autism Society of America estimates that one in 68 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) yearly in the US—and one about which much controversy still rages. Many books and films have been produced, many of them depicting autistic people as freaks or savants, or telling unrealistic tales of overcoming or parental heroism. Bluebirds Fly, in contrast, is an honest account of both real challenges and real rewards that children with autism and their families face. Immediately after its April, 2015 release it was named Best Documentary at the SENE Festival. Arnold and her film will help to educate students, faculty and Baltimoreans about the realities of autism. 

Arnold is a highly regarded filmmaker and former advertising professional with twenty years of experience in media production and direction. Her first documentary feature, Buddy: The Rise and Fall of America’s Most Notorious Mayor (2005), profiled Buddy Cianci, the former mayor of Providence who was later convicted of corruption charges. Buddy won multiple awards, including Best Documentary at the Boston Film Festival, Best of Festival at the Pacific Palisades Film Festival, and a 2008 EMMY award. For more information about Arnold and her company, Big Orange Films, please visit http://www.bigorangefilms.com

Resources for Attendees:

Trailer for Bluebirds Fly, Love and Hope on the Autism Spectrum
Facebook page for Bluebirds Fly, Love and Hope on the Autism Spectrum
Pathfinders for Autism: helps families find resources: http://www.pathfindersforautism.org/ 
Autism Society of America: http://www.autism-society.org/

Autistic Self-Advocacy Network: Nonprofit run by and for people on the spectrum: http://autisticadvocacy.org/

Questions for Further Reflection and Discussion:

1. What specific challenges do the film’s children and families face? To what degree do they meet those challenges?

2. The three children profiled show that autism presents itself in a wide variety of ways. What, if anything, do they have in common? Does the diagnosis of “autism” really help us understand each of them, or is it an obstacle? 

3. Where do you think resources should be spent in the future? On finding the causes of autism? On providing better services for autistic people and their families? Both? Neither? Does the film advocate for one or the other? 

4. Do any of the children profiled appear to have special talents, in addition to disabilities?

5. What do you think about the idea of “neurodiversity,” which proposes that autism isn’t really a disability but rather a set of differences? 

6. How does the structure of the film—its separate narrative segments and its parallels—help us grasp its message?

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