Heartland Film Honors “Life, Animated” with Truly Moving Picture Award

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Inspirational documentary recognized for its ability to inspire and entertain audiences.

"Life, Animated" Honored with Truly Moving Picture Award by Heartland Film
"We are honored to receive the Truly Moving Picture Award,” said Director Roger Ross Williams. “We hope that ‘Life, Animated’ moves us all to realize that people living with autism have so much to offer the world."

Feature-length documentary “Life, Animated”, directed by Academy Award® winner Roger Ross Williams, has been honored with the Truly Moving Picture Award from nonprofit arts organization Heartland Film. Select theatrically-released titles — entertaining films that do more than just entertain — receive the designation throughout the year. Submissions are received directly from studios and producers for consideration.

"We are honored to receive the Truly Moving Picture Award,” said Williams. “We hope that ‘Life, Animated’ moves us all to realize that people living with autism have so much to offer the world."

“Life, Animated” is the inspirational story of Owen Suskind, a young man who was unable to speak as a child until he and his family discovered a unique way to communicate by immersing themselves in the world of classic Disney animated films. This emotional coming-of-age story follows Owen as he graduates to adulthood and takes his first steps toward independence.

“An incredibly personal story with unique insights into the minds of people with autism and people without autism, ‘Life, Animated’ won over the hearts of our jury as they unanimously voted to give it our Truly Moving Picture Award,” said Heartland Film Artistic Director Tim Irwin. “This film has the power to inspire audiences through the transformative power of the art form.”

The subject of his father Ron Suskind’s New York Times bestseller, Owen was a thriving three-year-old who suddenly and inexplicably went silent – and for years after remained unable to connect with other people or to convey his thoughts, feelings or desires. Over time, through repeated viewings of Disney classics like “The Little Mermaid” and “The Lion King”, Owen found useful tools to help him to understand complex social cues and to re-connect with the world around him.

“Life, Animated” evocatively interweaves classic Disney sequences with verite scenes from Owen’s life in order to explore how his identification and empathy for characters like Simba, Jafar, and Ariel gave him a means to understand his feelings and allowed him to interpret reality. Beautiful, original animations offer rich insights into Owen’s fruitful dialogue with the Disney oeuvre as he imagines himself heroically facing adversity as a member in a tribe of sidekicks.

Owen’s story is a moving testament to the many ways in which stories can serve as a means of persevering through the dark times, leading us all toward the light.

Truly Moving Picture Award winner “Life, Animated” opens in select theaters on Friday, July 1. For additional theaters and to view the trailer, visit http://www.lifeanimateddoc.com.

About Heartland Film, Inc.
Heartland Film is a nonprofit arts organization founded in 1991 with the mission to inspire filmmakers and audiences through the transformative power of film. Heartland Film is a curator and supporter of purposeful filmmaking, honoring a wide variety of cinema and awarding storytellers from all over the world. The films Heartland Film selects and exhibits – whether they inspire and uplift, educate and inform, or have the ability to shift audiences’ perspectives on the world – all have one thing in common: they are entertaining films that do more than just entertain. Every October, the Heartland Film Festival gives its moviegoers access to more than 100 visiting independent filmmakers from all over the world, right in the heart of the Midwest. Heartland Film Festival (Oct. 20-30, 2016) showcases more than 130 independent films over 11 days of red carpet premieres and events, parties and hundreds of film screenings across Indianapolis. The Heartland Film Festival has earned the special designation of being a qualifying festival for the Annual Academy Awards® within the Short Films category. Each year, the Heartland Film Festival awards more than $125,000 in cash prizes and presents its Festival Awards to top-judged submissions. Heartland Film has awarded more than $3 million to support indie filmmakers over the last 24 years. Beyond the Heartland Film Festival, Heartland Film honors theatrically-released films that align with its mission via the Truly Moving Picture Award, inspires the next generation of filmmakers via the Heartland Film Institute, and exhibits films across Indiana all year long via the Heartland Film Roadshow. To learn more, visit heartlandfilm.org.

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Greg Sorvig
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