When you watch Pixar’s “Inside Out,” you probably felt emotions. The funny thing was that you saw emotions personified. By doing that, it most likely appealed to an unlikely movie audience – those with Autism.
The film spoke to those suffering from the disease so well that the film was selected to be honored at the first annual AutFest, the first ever film festival dedicated to Autism awareness. “Inside Out’s” co-director Pete Docter and producer Jonas Rivera were on hand to accept the award at the festival screening in Orange, California.
“I can’t explain it scientifically – it’s a mystery,” said Docter. “But there’s something about our movie that opens up the dialogue about how you feel.”
Docter, while he does not have Autism, told us that he had a hard time communicating his feelings and ultimately lead him to make “Inside Out.”
He continued, “A lot of families who have someone who has the disease have approached us and said that the personification of feelings has established a line of communication. They go ‘Look! I feel that!'”
The screening of the film that was shown at AutFest was adapted to be “sensory friendly” with the lights dimmed and the volume lowered to allow specific audiences and their families and friends to enjoy it fully. “We (Pixar) want to make films for everybody,” said Rivera. “We’ve made it a point to make our films that anyone with Autism, low vision and/or hearing and any other disability can access.”
The Pixar filmmakers also said that they were eager to participate in the event because of the other special guest who was there to present them with their award, Ed Asner.
“We loved Ed and the Asner family,” said Rivera. “When they asked us to come down and do this, we jumped at it.” The 87-year-old actor who voiced Mr. Fredricksen from Pixar’s “Up” is a advocate for Autism awareness as his adult son has the disease and two grandchildren are on the spectrum.
Asner hopes that more films, Pixar included, can be accessible to everyone as he believes it’s a great tool to spread awareness. “It (film) is rarely considered to be a tool for teaching nowadays,” he told us. “What better way to teach about Autism than with film?”
Our special thanks to Pete, Jonas, and Ed for the exclusive interview time and laughs!