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Film screening is free and open to the public.
Running Time: 1:11:47
Abandoned by his birth parents and unable to speak for himself, DJ Savarese (“Deej”) found not only a loving family but also a life in words, which he types on a text-to-voice synthesizer. As he makes his way through high school and dreams of college, he confronts the terrors of his past, obstacles to inclusion and the sometimes paralyzing beauty of his own senses. In his advocacy on behalf of other nonspeaking autistics, he embraces filmmaking and poetry and discovers what having a voice can truly mean.
“I won the lottery when my parents adopted me from foster care; I won it again when they included me in regular education. Now, I seek to help kids much less fortunate than I by showing people what a nonspeaking student with autism can do.
In Deej, the camera intrudes on every aspect of my life. If seeing truly is believing, then perhaps eyes can be opened to the full potential of kids with significant disabilities. Shot over a six-year period, Deej reveals not only what the ideal of full inclusion requires but also what it can accomplish.”
[Source: David James Savarese, Press Kit]
“When I first met DJ, I saw an attractive, earnest teenager who had been given a second chance at life through the love and encouragement of extraordinary parents. But it didn’t take me long to understand that there was much more to this young man. His views on life were more sophisticated and perceptive than those of many adults, and his fresh, poetic ways of describing them outshone those of almost anyone else I’d met. I was also impressed by the fierce conviction that DJ brought to everything he undertook. He burned with an inner fire to “find freedom” in his own life and to “break barriers” for others like him. While he had come so far from a tormented passt, what was striking was how far he wanted to go.”