Abandoned when he was three years old by his birth parents, DJ Savarese has learned to flourish as a non-speaking Autist. Whilst not being able to speak with his voice, DJ is powerfully vocal in the medium of writing: he is a talented poet, playwright and advocate for neurodiverse people. We follow him through the emotional rollercoaster of high-school graduation and college application, as he bravely confronts the terrors of his past, turning trauma into liquid magic in breathtaking poetry.

This is a ground-breaking film about having a voice – a film which even confronts the hidden power relations within traditional documentary-making between director and subject: DJ Savarese joins director Robert Rooy, as writer and producer, sharing editorial control. The result is a film wrested from the hands of the traditional objectifying lens, a film which opens up into a subjective, neurodiverse perspective.

Em Cooper joined DJ Savarese to produce oil-paint animation to bring his written poetry to life on the screen.

USA TV premiere: 17th October 2017, PBS World, America ReFramed

running time
1hr 12min