All you need is Love

by Mark Burger

The RiverRun International Film Festival will present a special free screening of Matt Fuller’s documentary Autism in Love on Wednesday, Dec. 2 at Huber Theatre on the campus of Salem College in Winston-Salem.

The film follows four adults coping with varying degrees of autism who reveal their personal lives as they navigate dating and romantic relationships in sometimes courageous, sometimes humorous, and always human fashion.

Autism in Love won the Audience Award at this year’s Warsaw International Film Festival and was nominated as Best Documentary Feature at the Tribeca Film Festival. The screening is a result of the ongoing partnership between ITVS Indie Lens Pop-Up and RiverRun’s Films With Class Program, which offers an annual series of documentary films screening ahead of their televised debuts on PBS Independent Lens. This marks the third year of the series, and this screening is presented in collaboration with iCan House, which teaches social skills, offers educational opportunities and provides a support network for those with social challenges.

“Love and relationships are never uncomplicated, but for those on the autistic spectrum, the communication of feelings can be unfamiliar,” observes Jane McKim, RiverRun Festival community director. “In this film, audiences will explore through first-person portrayals, four adults with autism that, despite the challenges, love does find a way. Following the film we are delighted to offer a panel discussion with members of iCan House.”

The series will continue with Tony Vainuku and Erika Cohn’s documentary In Football We Trust (Jan. 13, 2016), followed by Black Panthers: Vanguard of a Revolution (Feb. 10, 2016), which was screened at this year’s festival, with filmmaker Stanley Nelson receiving the 2015 Master of Cinema Award.

Although RiverRun’s big event is, of course, the annual festival itself (the 2016 festival is scheduled for April 7-17), “providing screening opportunities throughout the year, outside of our annual festival, allows us to engage our audiences more regularly and provide exciting new films that might otherwise not be possible for us to show in the spring,” explains RiverRun executive director Andrew Rodgers. “As RiveRun continues to grow and evolve, we intend to expand our year-round programming efforts even further – so stay tuned for more.”

This summer, the festival received almost $150,000 in operating and project grants from both national and local donors, among them the National Endowment for the Arts, the Forsyth County Tourism Development Authority, the James G. Hanes Foundation City of Winston-Salem, the Millennium Fund, and the Winston-Salem Foundation.

“The future and sustainability of our organization relies entirely on the continued generosity of business, individuals and institutions,” Rodgers said in a statement at the time. “As such, the support from these local and national foundations, while representing just one of the important sources of revenue for the organization, will help us to expand our offerings and maintain the vibrancy of the festival as we look to the future.”

At that time, Rodgers and wife Iana had just welcomed their second daughter, and the St. Louis native was looking forward to another Cardinals world championship. But, despite having the best record in major league baseball and conquering the National League Central Division, the Cardinals lost to the Chicago Cubs in the National League Division Series.

(This writer’s favorite baseball team, the Philadelphia Phillies, finished with the worst record of the 2015 season and went absolutely nowhere.)

Nevertheless, Rodgers states: “Ozzie Smith is the greatest shortstop in the history of baseball.”

Last year, Rodgers also premiered his first film, the documentary short Crooked Candy. To avoid any potential controversy, he did not submit or screen it at RiverRun, but promoting the film at various festivals gave him some fresh insight into the festival circuit.

“Over the last 15 months, my little sixminute film has shown at 43 film festivals around the world “¦ premiered on VOD this summer on Fandor and Aeon Video, was released on DVD by Film Movement as a bonus feature along with the Bulgarian feature The Lesson in August, and now will soon be appearing as an in-flight film aboard Alaskan Airlines. To be sure, the reception has exceeded my wildest expectations!” He is currently completing his second documentary short Dark Station, and planning a third. Just don’t expect to see them at RiverRun. !


Autism in Love will be screened 7:30 pm Wednesday, Dec. 2 in Huber Theatre, located on the campus of Salem College (601 S. Church St., Winston- Salem). Admission is free. For more information, call 336.724.1502 or check out:www.riverrunfilm. com/autisum-in-love-free-indie-lens-pop-upscreening-122/. The official RiverRun International Film Festival website is