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The United States of Autism: The Critic Reviews

Richard Everts (also the director and the father of an autistic son), introduces 20 families dealing with the disorder, visited during 40 days of road travel across the country. He meets the highly verbal, troubled only in social situations. He meets the nonverbal, whose physical struggles exhaust financial and emotional resources. He meets parents displaying pain or pride, or both, about their children. The networks of such families, which rely heavily on one another for advice and comfort, should search out this modest film… Many scenes… are moving: A nonverbal teenager withholding eye contact slowly, gently touches his guest in trust and affection. Mr. Everts meets Puerto Ricans and Korean-Americans, Christians and Muslims, those with low incomes and high. All the while, passionate disputes about causes, treatment and possible recovery are noted but not refereed. That pluralism is the point. Yes, the animated opening sequence has a professional polish that the rest of the film lacks, but the documentary s chosen angle is meaningful: The world of autism is as diverse as the nation. –New York Times [READ FULL REVIEW]

Richard Everts The United States of Autism is a road trip, specifically an 11,000 forty-day journey in which the filmmaker crisscrossed the country to speak to individuals, families, politicians, doctors and other relevant figures about this serious issue that has reached epidemic proportions….the film delivers many profoundly emotional moments in its filmed encounters with those affected by the condition… Ultimately, the film succeeds in its admirable goal of putting a human face on a disorder that many of those who lack a personal connection to it fail to fully comprehend or, in the worst cases, tolerate. –The Hollywood Reporter [READ FULL REVIEW]

The chipper Everts hosts and narrates (with the occasional hokiness) this 40-day road trip across a patchwork of American towns and cities. His brief, slightly stagy visits with folks, young and older, at varying ends of the autism spectrum, purposefully include Mormon, Muslim, Puerto Rican, African American and Chinese interview subjects, plus a mix of socioeconomic, political and intellectual perspectives. Candor, warmth and impressive displays of fortitude abound. A range of key autism-related issues is touched upon, though, as with the snapshots of the film’s many characters, less is not necessarily more. However, what the film lacks in probing and balance it makes up for in worthiness of topic. –LA Times [READ FULL REVIEW]

Resolutely upbeat producer-director Richard Evert, the father of an autistic boy, journeys cross-country 11,000 miles in “The United States of Autism,” knocking on 21 doors to speak with other families with autistic children. In the informal interviews that follow, involving much hugging and friendly horseplay, many parents say they are blessed, claiming to have learned valuable lessons from their autistic kids. Sometimes the children speak on their own behalf, as when two brothers describe their disease, one labeling it “cool” and the other considering it an unmitigated disaster. The documentary clarifies the breadth of the autism spectrum, from those who lack basic language and/or motor skills to those at the high-functioning end who do not seek a “cure” but rather social acceptance in the name of neurological diversity. Doctors and scientists attest to the huge increase in autism cases, but Evert seldom enters into questions of causes or treatments, concentrating instead on the inspirational aspects of his quest. –Variety Magazine [READ FULL REVIEW]

[Everts] interactions with the families don t have to be long and wordy because they are honest, human, and beautifully constructed and because Everts avoids the traps of this kind of filmmaking insipid narration, icky empathy, lingering fadeouts, tears for the sake of tears. What you get instead are vivid glimpses of high-functioning kids and adults, full-syndrome kids who do or don t respond to various treatments, siblings who are coping or not…You have to admire the sheer energy and intelligence that shines through not just the geographic pace, but the smart decision to whack the daylights out of just about every interview and leave the nubbin, whether it s two or three minutes or two or three sentences…We see an evolution in Everts approach to his son aided by a remarkable family reunion that is subtle and unforced but deeply moving. –Age of Autism [READ FULL REVIEW]

A unique road trip documentary that attempts to throw a spotlight on the broad range of autistic spectrum disorder, “The United States of Autism” finds director Richard Everts traveling across the country for 40 days, visiting 20 families affected by the aforementioned condition. Everts’ film came into being as part of the Pepsi Refresh Project, which after two months of online voting awarded a $50,000 production grant. He also has a personal connection to autism, though — through his own childhood issues and, most immediately, his son now being impacted by the disorder. It’s that latter fact that most colors this tender, earnest offering. –Shockya.com [READ FULL REVIEW]

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