Everyone is encouraged to check out the “YesYouCAN” (Champion Autism Network) Film Festival, for a better understanding and awareness about autism, and maybe even to learn other ways to assist some neighbors or help a family feel more at home.
The fest, with all films by or about someone with autism, and with some special guests from some of the productions on hand, will roll this weekend at the Grand 14 Cinema, at DeVille and Reed streets, at The Market Common in Myrtle Beach. (This enterprise is separate from the 12th annual Myrtle Beach International Film Festival, April 17-22 at this venue – 843-497-0220 or www.myrtlebeachfilmfestival.com.)
“Aspie Seeks Love” – about a man who searched for love for more than 20 years, and was not diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome until age 41 (aspieseekslove.com) – plays at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Saturday comprises “The Family Next Door” – about a household with 2 of 4 children who have autism (www.thefamilynextdoorfilm.com) – at 10 a.m, then four shorts are at 1:30 p.m. – “Keep The Change,” “Amazing Things Happen,” “I Believe,” and “Circles.”
Each film block is $8.50, or $7 for student, teacher or senior – and pass for all six movies, at $20 and $15, respectively. Get more details at 609-744-0099, championautismnetwork.com/2017-films/, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
CAN’s creator and executive director, Becky Large of Surfside Beach, spoke last week about helping coordinating the festival, as another big step forward in community outreach about autism, which covers a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges.
Q: Is this film festival the first of its kind to play this area, something innovative in raising awareness?
A: Absolutely. From my reading, I’ve heard of only a few others around the country, ... and in Spain or Italy. ... This film festival is not designed exclusively for CAN families, because we live it every day. We’re promoting autism awareness and education for the public and about needs and accommodations of our families.
Q: How did this festival come together for a specially themed weekend?
A: I have a friend who is involved in the film industry, Jim Ledoux, in Pennsylvania, where he is on the board for the Arts for Autism Foundation of Pittsburgh, which has the Joey Travolta Film Camp, an inclusive, two-week film camp to teach people in the autism spectrum all about filmmaking. I had told him we wanted to have a film festival and that we have all the pieces in place here in Myrtle Beach, and he helped us select the films.
Q: The movie lineup this weekend entails a variety of settings and stories. Any particular title hit home with you the most?
A: The one that made me cry the most, because I live it, is “The Family Next Door.” It’ the one that I wish everybody would see, a two-year account of a family with 2 of 4 children who have autism. It’s really interesting to hear about the challenges for this family and see their growth. ... When helping a person in your family with autism, you always need to be looking 3 to 5 years ahead.
Q: CAN has stepped up autism awareness through so many channels, as seen in TV public service announcements, and in places such as a local bowling alley, library, Myrtle Beach State Park, Ripley’s Aquarium, and Myrtle Beach Speedway. How does such outreach make families coping with autism feel more at home in this, and a vital part of, community?
A: From what I have heard, it’s been life altering to be able to leave the house and do everyday things, feeling and knowing that other members of the public are seen as supporters. ... Knowing there are trained personnel in restaurants and businesses with staff so understanding in welcoming families who have someone with autism, ... it’s liberating. We have been so blessed. ...
We have the “CAN Card,” ... with which families walk in and show the card at participating sites, and it’s a low-key way to identify themselves. ... The program continues to grow. It’s also part of an initiative to help provide more economic opportunities for our region, especially in the shoulder months, in spring and fall.
Q: What’s the greatest understanding and empathy about autism the public can gain through the great work CAN leads?
A: The biggest thing with children affected is that autism is a communication disorder. They have a hard time communicating their displeasure, something that could be triggered by a tag on a shirt, or a smell. They are not naughty children, and the parents who cope with their tantrums and meltdowns are not bad parents. They all need a smile with no judgments, and know that we’re doing the best we can.
Q: A sensory friendly showing of “Smurfs: The Lost Village,” for families with children with autism, is 10 a.m. this Saturday at the theater. How many years have these special dates for new releases at the Grand 14, giving such families an outlet to see new hits on a Saturday morning, been a gift for the community?
A: Since 2013, almost four years now. Duane Farmer, the general manager, has been really wonderful. ... The ownership, Stone Theatres, also just recently has taken the sensory friendly screenings corporatewide to other theaters.
Contact Steve Palisin at 843-444-1764.
If you go
WHAT: “YesYouCAN” (Champion Autism Network) Film Festival
WITH: All films by or about someone with autism.
WHERE: Grand 14 Cinema, at DeVille and Reed streets, at The Market Common in Myrtle Beach.
▪ “Aspie Seeks Love” (about a man who searched for love for more than 20 years, and was not diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome until age 41), 7:30 p.m. Friday.(aspieseekslove.com)
▪ Saturday – “The Family Next Door” (about a household with 2 of 4 children who have autism), 10 a.m; and four shorts at 1:30 p.m. – “Keep The Change,” “Amazing Things Happen,” “I Believe,” and “Circles.”
HOW MUCH: Each film block – $8.50, or $7 for student, teacher or senior – and pass for all six movies, at $20 and $15, respectively.
▪ Annual sensory friendly open house, 4:30-6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Georgetown City Fire Department, 1405 Prince St., Georgetown – with sirens turned off and lights dimmed, for any family who has a child with special needs welcome. Details at 843-436-5900 or 843-545-4213.
▪ Sensory friendly showing of “Smurfs: The Lost Village,” for families with children with autism, 10 a.m. Saturday at Grand 14 Cinema. Free.