The movie that made everyone cry at TIFF 2016, including men

Posted on June 1, 2016

One of the only things that can change solid ground or that can move a tree’s roots is an earthquake. It’s the same with emotions. You need something to shake you up really good to make you change something about yourself or reconsider your position in life.

Life animated at TIFF 2016

To sum it up, “Life animated” made me (and a room full of people, including men) cry for at least 60 minutes out of the 90 minutes of its run. I’ve never felt so much emotion and empathy during a movie. And I never thought that a director could make me and people see life so differently after a screening. And  I never heard so many people crying in the same time.

Directed by Roger Ross Williams, “Life animated” tells the story of a boy with autism that found a pathway to language and a framework to understanding and making sense of the world through Disney animation. Basically, the story is that he manages to communicate and get out of his inner world through the characters that Walt Disney created (like Simba, Jafar and Ariel) and make his condition a lot better, to the point where they document his moving by himself, getting his first job and living, somehow of an independent life.


First of all. It’s about educating and knowing a lot about autism. About how many people – besides the actual boy – get affected and involved in it. How life is completely different and how it makes you powerless when you cannot get through to someone. Then it’s about communication, how you REALLY need to listen to someone and find out THE BEST WAY to communicate with them, their own unique way, not the one that you’re used to. It’s about families being there and sticking for each other even if it’s too much to handle. It’s about love and how you learn to have empathy for people who are different. And not consider them different anymore. Just try to do your best to understand, help and integrate them into a community so they don’t feel left out.

People that watched it didn’t cry because it was sad. They cried because it was moving. Because there was so much emotion in the story, so much humanity. And the director Roger Williams managed to use the Disney quotes and moods to match the story. Whenever Owen was filled with an emotion, you would see a montage of Disney characters having the same emotion as him. It was a brilliant directing move.


People condemn Disney a lot for manipulating kids into believing fairytales and escaping from reality. But what do you say when Disney saves lives? And becomes a language, the only language that some people can use to communicate and interract with the outside world?

The remarkable story of how Owen found in Disney animation a pathway to language and a framework for making sense of the world. By evocatively interweaving classic Disney sequences with verite scenes from Owen’s life, the film explores how identification and empathy with characters like Simba, Jafar, and Ariel forge a conduit for him to understand his feelings and interpret reality.

Seriously, you really really need to this one, no matter who you are. It will change the way you see life. The other screening of “Life animated” at TIFF 2016 is on June 5th (the last day of the movie festival) at Florin Piersic Cinema at 15:00.