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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Part 2: Interview with Rupert Isaacson on the Book & Movie "The Horse Boy"

By John C.

Here is part 2 of my 2-part interview with Rupert Isaacson, author of the book and subject of the new documentary, The Horse Boy. Read part 1 here, and check back tomorrow for part 1 of my interview with The Horse Boy director Michael Orion Scott.

What were some of you favourite moments from this incredible journey of getting the film made, and the book written?

Well, for Kristen and I, I think the most defining moment was seeing Rowan do his first intentional poo, because if you soil your pants every 20 hours, you’re going to have no friends and a lot of trouble in the world. Once that dysfunction went, we were all so relieved. Also, I would have to say, seeing him make his first friend, and seeing the tantrums go. So, the whole thing was amazing, very bonding. Ghoste the Shaman said that we should do something with some type of healers at least once a year for 3 years, so we were in Africa last year, and then in Australia this year. We still see the leaps forward, all the while still doing Western therapies. This coming year we will probably be doing it in North America, with Native Americans. When you take these adventures with the family, it bonds you, and then, autism, this thing that people say will shut you down, becomes a very beautiful thing.

Are there any upcoming book or film projects you can tell us about?

We are filming, and we do continue to film, every healing journey we make. Will indeed Rowan get gradually less autistic until he's 9, like the Shamans said? Right now we're living that journey.

How have people been receiving the film?

I'm not a filmmaker, I'm a guy who made a film. I find that critics are in two camps. One side are saying ‘they’re exploiting their child, what about child privacy, etc.’, but those people are not in the position that we were in, and I hope that they never find themselves in that position. Critically, it doesn't matter, it’s more important that it helps people.

Did you see the film at Hot Docs?

I did go to Hot Docs.

Was it well received there?

Very much so. It's funny because most of the people in the audience were connected to autism, whether it’s a friend of theirs, or a family member. It’s present in 1 in 54 babies born now, I think. So, most of the questions we got were very practical. The audience asked the kinds of questions one would get around the dinner table.

What we really liked about this film was that it is one of the few really positive portrayals of autism.

Absolutely, it's a big scary thing, but that's only part of the story. There are also incredible gifts,and the in next film we want to explore, ‘what are these gifts?’. We’ve had the opportunity to meet with adults and young adults, all successful, in their own rites.

There are a lot of other, particularly fictional, films about autism, and Aspergers, coming out recently. Have you seen any of these films, and what do you think of them?

Well, I think it is a very big topic right now, because of the prevalence rate. I don't really have an opinion of it. If it gets people aware of it, then it's good. There are quite a lot coming out right know, in so many forms. Because autism is case by case, each one that's different, reflects the diversity. They all represent someone. Everyone’s different, that’s why you can try 30 therapies, before you find the one that works.

Specifically there were the two films Adam, and the animated one from Australia, Mary & Max.

I actually saw both those films at Sundance, and again, what both of those films do show, is that both of these people go on to lead interesting lives of their own. All of that aside though, Mary & Max is worth seeing even just for the interesting animation.

And also from what I’ve heard, Phillip Seymore Hoffman’s voice work is just spot-on.

Yes, he is excellent. It’s also just a wonderfully funny film.

Is there anything else you’d like to add today?

Perhaps just if people do have questions, they can contact us at www.horseboyfoundation.org, and if they want to see where the movies coming on, they can check out www.horseboymovie.com where the list of theatres playing it will be updated periodically. I suppose the distribution company in Canada, Films We Like, will have it on their site as well. People can definitely contact us. You guys in Canada I think, are quite lucky, since you do have so much nature around.

Thank you for taking the time to talk to me today.

It's my pleasure, thank you for calling.

One Movie, Five Views thanks Rupert Isaacson for taking the time for this interview. You can read our reviews of the film coming this Friday, November 13th, 2009.

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