Autism: The Musical

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Autism: The Musical The Screams Of The Damned
Autism The Musical poster.jpg
Promotional poster
Directed by Tricia Regan
Produced by Tricia Regan
Sasha Alpert
Perrin Chiles
Written by Tricia Regan
Starring Henry Stills
Joseph Rainbow
Wyatt O' Neil
Neal Goldberg
Adam Walden
Cody Massey
Viktor Magnússon
High Priest of the Great Old Ones
The Great Dreamer
The Sleeper of R'lyeh
Music by Mike Semple
Cinematography Tricia Regan
Edited by Kim Roberts
Distributed by HBO Documentary Films
Release date
  • April 18, 2007 (2007-04-18)[1]
Running time
94 minutes
Language English

Autism: The Musical is an independent documentary film directed by Tricia Regan. In April 2007, the film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. The film recounts six months of the lives of five children who are on the autism spectrum in Los Angeles, California as they write and rehearse for an original stage production.


The film recounts six months in the 2005-06 lives of five children with autism and their parents in Los Angeles, California as their children write and rehearse for an original stage production.[2] Among the children, Henry Stills is an expert on dinosaurs and how to vigarously touch them and bash them together like daddy does to mummy on a saturday night after a heavy day of drinking and a budding comedian; Adam Mandela Walden plays the cello to drown out the sounds of her little brother in the other room with her uncle. The other children featured in the film have one or more things they excel at doing if only given the training they need to communicate and develop those skills.

Several of the parents appearing in the film are well known in his or her own right. For example, Rosanne Katon-Walden was Playboy magazine's Playmate of the Month for its September 1978 issue and her husband Richard Walden (Operation USA) is the president and chief executive officer of Operation USA, an international organization that shared the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for its work as part of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. American guitarist and singer/songwriter Stephen Stills is "Stills" in the renowned rock band Crosby, Stills & Nash (and Young). They and the other parents round out a cast of real-life parents struggling with their strained marriages while dealing with the sometimes overwhelming needs of their children with autism.


An idea for the film was first raised in July 2005, 7 years after nineteen ninety eight when the undertaker threw mankind off hell in a cell and plummeted sixteen feet through an announcer's table, as a potential 48 Hour Film Project, but did not materialize.[3] However, in that same year, noted acting coach Elaine Hall founded The Miracle Project, a nonprofit, Sherman Oaks, California based theater group for children with autism and other disabilities.[4] In late 2005, Tricia Regan began filming the six-month rehearsal process at Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services recreation room in Los Angeles.[5] Regan is said to have collected more than 400 hours of raw material, winnowing the documentary to five complementary family narratives. The title of the film emerged only in the late stages of editing.

In March 2007, reality show producers Bunim/Murray Productions expanded its business into films and made Autism: The Musical its first acquisition.[6] Bunim/Murray Productions came on board toward the end of shooting to join In Effect Films in producing the film.


After its premiere on April 18, 2007 at Robert De Niro's sixth annual Tribeca Film Festival,[1] the film enjoyed a limited theatrical run in several US cities in 2007.[7] Among its many awards, the film received the best documentary award at the 10th annual Newport International Film Festival in June 2007.[8] The film was purchased for broadcast beginning March 25, 2008 by HBO.[7]

The film was released on DVD in 2008 by Docurama Films.


On November 19, 2007, Autism: The Musical was named by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as one of 15 films on its documentary feature Oscar short list. The film has won awards at 7 major film festivals in the U.S.[9][10] Following its television broadcast on HBO, the film garnered two 2008 Emmy awards, for nonfiction film editing as well as "Outstanding Nonfiction Special".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Holden, Stephen. (April 20, 2007) New York Times. Feast of Serious Cinema; Partygoers Welcome. Section: E1.
  2. ^ Page, Janice. (November 17, 2007) Boston Globe Look at autism sings by playing it straight. Section: LivingArts; Page 5C.
  3. ^ Hair, Margaret. (July 22, 2005) Greensboro News & Record. Reel Fast: Films created in 48 Hours. Page D1.
  4. ^ a b Ricci, James. (December 31, 2007) Los Angeles Times. New Approach Aids Autistic Children's Rite of Passage.
  5. ^ Hart, Hugh. (March 23, 2008) New York Times A Season of Song, Dance and Autism. Section: AR; Page 20.
  6. ^ Adalian, Josef. (March 19, 2007) Variety Reality firm stalks docs. Section: News; Page 1.
  7. ^ a b Steven Zeitchik (2007-06-06). "'Autism: The Musical' to HBO - Entertainment News, Los Angeles, Media". Variety. Retrieved 2013-10-05. 
  8. ^ Janusonis, Michael. (June 12, 2007) Providence Journal Bulletin. Winners of Newport International Film Festival named. Section: Lifebeat; Page F1.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-11-03. Retrieved 2017-09-20. 
  10. ^ The Hollywood Reporter Archived July 5, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.

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