TYPE: Documentary Short
A groundbreaking point-of-view journey into a non-fluent speaker's world. 14 year old Emma challenges societal judgement surrounding autism... one keystroke at a time.
For years, Emma struggled to communicate her feelings, her needs, and her fears, to friends and family. It was a difficult time in which her intelligence, and desire to connect, was continually underestimated. Two years ago, for the first time in Emma's life, her true voice was finally heard when she began to type. Using this tool, Emma has defied all expectations and is finally able to have her thoughts expressed and understood by those around her. Having found her voice, Emma now advocates nationally for acceptance, tolerance and understanding.
This is Emma’s debut as co-director.
This documentary comes at a time when the increased understanding and acceptance of autism has become a collective responsibility. Yet, more often than not, the autism narrative is told from the point of view of parents, caretakers and medical professionals rather than those who contend with it personally. For far too long, autism has been largely defined by non-autistic people. It's time for change.
Our goal for Unspoken is to reshape the public’s perception of autism: removing the stigma and celebrating our incredible berth of diversity. Emma endeavors to craft this documentary as uplifting and inspiring to the viewer; revealing the beauty of her world despite the obstacles she faces.
Unspoken is about breaking down the barriers of misconception as the line between director, subject and storyteller are blurred, redefined, and crossed entirely with Emma actively leading the charge both behind and in front of the camera. In so doing, we will share a seldom revealed, unique viewpoint. In this film, we express a voice that until now has been unfairly silenced. And together we will foster a spirit of positive change.
Unspoken is a story for anyone who has ever felt out of place, left alone, and felt misunderstood. Through Emma’s eyes, we see ourselves in a new light, and realize the remarkable abilities we all share. That together, we can overcome any obstacle, achieve any goal and arrive at a place of hope, empathy and a deeper acceptance of humanity.
EMMA ZURCHER-LONG - CO-DIRECTOR
Emma Zurcher-Long is a fourteen-year old Autistic girl living in NYC. She is a public speaker, writer and likes to sing on stage. Emma applauds those who have found, or are in the process of finding, their individual voice, as she has through typing. Emma has had the opportunity to give presentations at conferences and schools around the country. Her writing has been published on her blog, Emma’s Hope Book, Special Parent Magazine and HALO’s 2014 edition of Voices. She would like to continue opening people’s minds to differences.
“You are welcome to follow me on this adventure” - Typed by Emma.
EMMA'S BLOG: http://emmashopebook.com
JULIA NGEOW - CO-DIRECTOR
Julia originally graduated from a Bachelor of Biophysical Science in 2005, majoring in both Neuroscience & Physiology. She has great interest in psychology, the human mind, and telling stories that unite humanity.
With subsequent studies in filmmaking, Julia’s work as a director spans 8 years, including narrative drama, music videos & documentary work that has screened internationally.
GENEVA PESCHKA - PRODUCER
For the past 10 years Geneva has worked in the feature animation and live action production world. In addition to working in production, she also focuses on service and working to help local communities in New York and Haiti. Geneva was first introduced to Emma and her family 5 years ago and since then has become very close to the Zurcher-Long family. Having witnessed the astonishing breakthrough with Emma’s communication and typing, Geneva felt that it was important to help Emma’s goal of getting people to truly understand what it’s like to be autistic become a reality.
MARQUISE STILLWELL - EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
Marquise is the Founder and Principal of Openbox. As a business designer and developer for more than two decades, he grounds the Openbox vision in strategic planning from the fields of investing, product development, and technology. Marquise also works in creative leadership, teaching with the KaosPilots in Denmark and South Africa.
An active supporter of the arts, Marquise has collaborated with director Petter Ringbom on three short films and one feature-length movie, Shield and Spear (2014). Marquise acts as a board member for the Lowline Underground Park and board advisor for the Andrew Goodman Foundation.
PETTER RINGBOM - CREATIVE ADVISOR
Petter Ringbom is a Swedish filmmaker and designer based in New York. His debut feature documentary “The Russian Winter,” a film about musician John Forté’s Russian odyssey after his release from prison, premiered at Tribeca Film Festival in 2012. His follow up feature doc “Shield and Spear,” a film about art, music and freedom in South Africa twenty years after the end of apartheid, premiered at Toronto’s Hot Docs in 2014. Ringbom’s short film “May Fly,” starring Gustaf Skarsgård, was nominated for the 1KM Film Award at Stockholm Int’l Film Festival. His films have also screened at Moscow Int’l Film Festival, Film Society of Lincoln Center, IDFA, BAM, Gothenburg Film Festival, Durban Int’l Film Festival, Sheffield Doc/Fest and many more. His art video collaboration with Karl Haendel, “Questions for My Father,” was hailed as a “genuine sleeper” by the New York Times, selected for the Art Video program at Art Basel Miami and shown at Wexner Center for the Arts, Utah Museum of Contemporary Arts and Susanne Vielmetter Projects. After studying at the Cooper Union School of Art in New York, Ringbom partnered in the creative agency Flat, where he served as an art director for clients like MoMA, Red Cross and ESPN. He has taught at Parsons School of Design and New York University and served on the board of the New York chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts. Ringbom was a Film Independent Fast Track Fellow for 2013 and a Gotland Film Lab resident at the Ingmar Bergman Estate in 2015.
JOHN WALTER - CREATIVE ADVISOR
John Walter is an American filmmaker from Detroit.
Walter directed and edited the documentary Theater of War in 2008, that the NY Times' Manohla Dargis called "inspired, inspiring." Walter's first feature-length documentary How to Draw a Bunny won a Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 2002, as well as the Audience Award at the Paris Film Festival. "Bunny",which Walter edited and directed, also earned him an Independent Spirit nomination, and is distributed by Palm Pictures and Lion's Gate DVD. Walter returned to Sundance in 2007 with a documentary that he edited, Amir Bar-Lev’s My Kid Could Paint That, which Sony Classics released in Fall 2007.
Walter wrote, directed and edited an hour-long documentary, "Edison's Miracle of Light," for PBS' "The American Experience" (1995). He produced and edited Thom Powers' film "Guns & Mothers, which was featured on the Emmy award-winning PBS series “Independent Lens" in 2003. For the Sundance Channel and CourtTV, Walter wrote, directed, and edited "Some Assembly Required".
John Walter is currently finishing work on "The Earth Moves", a cultural history film which uses the remounting of the Philip Glass opera "Einstein on the Beach" to explore the connections between opera, physics, and the New York avantgarde of the 60s and 70s. John Malkovich's Los Angeles-based production company Mr Mudd is producing the project in partnership with John's own production company Counterpoint Motion Pictures.
CONOR MCBRIDE - EDITOR
Conor is an award winning Irish documentary filmmaker and video editor. His stories, often compelling character studies, explore subjects ranging from gender to performance, which he portrays through film, audio and digital media.
Conor’s work has been aired on WNYC and published on the New York Times, narrative.ly, Surface, Egoïste and Interview magazine. He has made work for such brands as Facebook, Apple, Mercedes Benz and Tiffany & Co.
His documentaries have won awards at the Brooklyn Short Film Festival and the ZERO Film Festival. Conor is also a world traveler and mean fiddler.
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