Exceptional Minds, a not-for-profit professional training academy and studio designed to prepare individuals on the autism spectrum for careers in the digital art is among the inaugural winners of the Marvels of Media Awards presented by the Museum of the Moving Image.

The awards will be presented on March 31. The country’s very first media awards ceremony, film festival and exhibition celebrating media-makers on the autism spectrum. The open call for the first edition of this annual program received 3,071 nominations from 117 countries, from which 20 media works were chosen for awards in 12 categories including animated short, collaborative innovation, digital art, documentary, experimental film, mockumentary, narrative feature, narrative short, series, video game, student animated short and student video game.

“Through the Marvels of Media Awards, the Museum is further affirming our commitment to supporting the creative endeavors and pursuits of neurodiverse media-makers of all ages and backgrounds, and to help forge pathways within the media and entertainment industries through which these makers can have a substantive impact on our culture,” said Carl Goodman, the museum’s executive director. “We are indebted to our trustee Josh Sapan for conceiving of this initiative and look forward to celebrating the work of the winners and runners up on March 31 and beyond at the Museum.”

The winners were selected by an esteemed panel of judges including Emmy Award-winning actor Joe Pantoliano; award-winning actor Tony Goldwyn; president of the Jim Henson Foundation Cheryl Henson; journalist Paula Zahn; CEO of Take-Two Interactive Strauss Zelnick; screenwriter/filmmaker Tony Spiridakis; neurodiversity advocate Wendy Belzberg; and former CEO of Crown Media Family Networks Bill Abbott.

See below for a full list of their selected finalists.

Marvels of Media Animated Short Award
Winner: Being a Dog – Felix Swahn
Honorable Mention: Love Everyone with Sylvia – D.J. Svoboda
Honorable Mention: Backyard Camping – Exceptional Minds Animators with Sesame Workshop

Marvels of Media Collaborative Innovation Award
Winner: Mythlogic – Exceptional Minds with Doron Ross Tuvia, Eli Gross, Leona Tates, S. Michael Cicerelli, Kyle Payne, Brian Urquhart, Rebecca “Becca” David, Veronica Dolcich, Craig Hills, Jess Jerome supervising

Marvels of Media Digital Art Award
Winner: (Tending)(to)(Ta) – April Lin 林森
Honorable Mention: Origin of Hair – Carrie Hawks

Marvels of Media Documentary Award
Winner: Art 21 Episode: Kameelah Janan Rasheed: The Edge of Legibility – Carrie Hawks
Honorable Mention: Father of Rodents – Bryn Chainey

Marvels of Media Experimental Film Award
Winner: Prosopagnosia – Steven Fraser
Honorable Mention: Like the Girls Who Wear Pink – Jennifer Msumba
Honorable Mention: Las-NEW – Maxwell James Scheller

Marvels of Media Mockumentary Award
Winner: Satan Cured My Autism – Jackson Mark Tucker-Meyer
Honorable Mention: The Home Office – Directed by Dani Bowman. With Keaton Bicknell, Arturo Brito, Chris Castillo.

Marvels of Media Narrative Feature Award
Winner: Sanctuary Dream – Grant Carsten

Marvels of Media Narrative Short Award
Winner: Dak’ Toká Taíno (I am Taíno) (Yo Soy Taíno) – Julio Garay with Alba Garcia-Rivas
Honorable Mention: Boys Don’t Wear Dresses – Aloni Schorin and Jason Weissbrod

Marvels of Media Series Award
Winner: As We See It – Sue Ann Pien, Rick Glassman and Albert Rutecki with Jason Katims

Marvels of Media Student Animated Short Award
Winner: Cloud Boy: An Autistic Journey | 2021
Honorable Mention: Ignies et Glacies – Ivette Valencia Franco

Marvels of Media Student Video Game Award
Winner: Surf Hills Story – Kieran Amon
Honorable Mention: Creature Crusade – Leilah Wright

Marvels of Media Video Game Award
Winner: An Aspie Life – Bradley Hennessey

MoMI’s Marvel of Media Awards celebrates these innovative contributions to the fields of film, media, animation, game design and more with a film festival opening on March 31 and running through April 2022.

“I believe Marvels of Media is an important venture into an amazing group of creators,” said finalist Bradley Hennessey, creator of the game An Aspie Life. “Throughout all media, there are many on the spectrum who work day and night to develop art. The autistic spectrum covers a wide range of individuals, each unique in who they are and how they interact with the world. When this is applied to a creative endeavor, the end result is a representation of who they are. Through this, I hope visitors will gain a better understanding of what it means to be on the spectrum and their perspective on life.”