AutFest, the international film festival celebrating movies, TV and short films that raise awareness for autism, returned for its second year to honor “The Good Doctor,” “Atypical” and Sony Pictures Entertainment.
Hosted by the Autism Society in Los Angeles, AutFest screened 16 projects from 2017 and 2018 that were made by autistic filmmakers or helped spotlight those on the autism spectrum, holding an awards ceremony on Sunday night. Ed Asner, who serves as chair of the festival’s committee, presented Netflix show “Atypical,” which follows an autistic teenager as he jumps into the dating world, with the spotlight award, giving a shout out to star Keir Gilchrist.
“We applaud your gift you bring to this show and how you portray your character with such dignity and grace, that’s the bottom god damn line,” he said.
“Atypical” creator and executive producer Robia Rashid said that the show is “a story I felt driven to tell, it’s a story I felt lucky to tell, it’s a story about being different which I think is important, especially right now,” thanking the autism community for sharing its stories and being a welcoming group. ABC’s “The Good Doctor,” which follows star Freddie Highmore as a young autistic surgeon, was also honored with the spotlight award.
“Thank you for embracing us, thank you for teaching us, thank you for walking us through something that so many people continue to learn about every day,” said “The Good Doctor” co-star Nicholas Gonzalez during his acceptance speech. “I stand here and make a promise to you that that’s something we will continue to strive to do. We will always have an open ear, an open heart and open arms for the community and you’ve shown nothing but that for us and for that I just want to say thank you to each and every one of you here.”
Sony Pictures, the studio behind “Atypical,” “The Good Doctor” and “Roman J. Israel,” which was also screened at AutFest, received the visionary award for its commitment to a positive portrayal of those with autism. The honor was presented to president of Sony Pictures Television Studios Jeff Frost and co-presidents of Sony Pictures Television Chris Parnell and Jason Clodfelter.
“This is an incredibly important award for us, probably more important than most others you could receive,” Frost said in his speech. “The entertainment industry has the opportunity not only to entertain but also to inform, to educate and to enlighten viewers and we are so fortunate to be working with these showrunners to bring such important issues to audiences in an entertaining and compelling manner.”
He added, “We fully intend to continue the mission of spreading positive awareness about autism spectrum order, not only through these two shows but through many other projects in the future.”
Jennifer Jason Leigh, “Veep’s” Gary Cole and Richard Schiff also took part in AutFest events throughout the weekend.
(Pictured: Sony Picture TV co-presidents Chris Parnell and Jason Clodfelter with Sony Pictures TV Studios president Jeff Frost)