Abu Dhabi, March 29 2016: A moving film documenting a diverse group of young children with Autism in the UAE is set for worldwide release this week. AS ONE: THE AUTISM PROJECT, produced by Image Nation Abu Dhabi, one of the leading media and entertainment companies in the Middle East, will be available for download internationally on iTunes on April 2 – World Autism Day – and have a cinematic release in the UAE from April 3.
The documentary, which chronicles the journey of ten UAE based children as they embark on a creative musical theatre program (The Autism Project), will enjoy a limited theatrical release in Vox Cinemas in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The program, an initiative started by Her Highness Sheikha Shamsa bint Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, was created to raise awareness of autism in the UAE, and the film documents its efforts.
In addition to its theatrical release and iTunes download in the Middle East, UK and US, the film will be available to stream on TV.AE and will have special broadcasts on Abu Dhabi TV throughout the week.
Filmed entirely in Abu Dhabi, the documentary brought together a group of expat and Emirati children as they strive to put on a musical theatre production for the friends and family. Banke Ayanleke, mother of Gabrielle, the only girl to take part in the program said of being a part of this project: “It was an eye-opening experience and the change we have seen in all the children has been wonderful.
“We’re really looking forward to bringing our experience to the public. It is a great way to educate the UAE and beyond about children with Autism and show everyone that children with this condition can live full and wonderful lives with the right support.”
The children who appear in AS ONE come from different backgrounds and nationalities including Ethiopia, Palestine, England, Philippines, the United States, Uganda, India and the Emirates, and reflect the diverse and international community that resides in the UAE. Aged between four and seventeen, the children are at various levels on the autism spectrum, which gives the film a unique, realistic view on the condition.
Hana Makki, director for AS ONE, said: “It was a tremendous project to be a part of. Seeing all these diverse people come together and support each other was fantastic. Attitudes towards autism are changing but there are still a lot of people who don’t want to talk about it. We hope this film will change peoples perceptions for the better and help to remove the stigma of this condition.’
Since the documentary’s premiere at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival in 2014, which garnered two standing ovations, the film has traveled the globe screening at Autism awareness events and various film festivals around the world.
AS ONE, was the first feature length documentary to be added to Image Nation Abu Dhabi’s slate. Since then, the filmed media company’s documentary division has gone on to produced the critically acclaimed polio documentary EVERY LAST CHILD and co-produce HE NAMED ME MALALA, the documentary about nobel peace prize winner Malala Yousafzai.
Danielle Perissi, Head of Documentary film and television at Image Nation Abu Dhabi, said: “AS ONE was Image Nation’s first regional documentary and we’re immensely proud to bring it to audiences around the world. The project speaks to what we do best in our documentary division — creating films that tackle issues of import in our region. We hope it will not only raise awareness for the condition, but also shed light on the wonderfully diverse community we have here in the UAE.”
Cameron Mitchell, CEO of Majid Al Futtaim Cinemas- VOX Cinemas said “We are delighted to support the Autism Project as it is important to educate the UAE and beyond about children with this condition. VOX Cinemas strives to create great moments through bringing this documentary to audiences and raising the awareness of Autism, while supporting local filmmakers
Mad Solutions, a leading Pan-Arab film distributor and film studio, have lead distribution in the Middle East, while FILM BLUFF are handling US distribution of the film
Abdallah Al Shami, Managing Partner of Mad Solutions, said of being a part of the project: “This is a fantastic documentary to be involved and we’re so glad to be helping to raise awareness of this condition not only in the UAE but beyond.”
The film will screen at Vox Cinemas in Abu Dhabi (Nation Towers) from April 3 until April 7. At Mall of Emirates, special screenings of the film will be made available for advance bookings at Vox Kids. The film will be able to download on iTunes from April 2.
TV Broadcast Dates:
Abu Dhabi TV – Saturday April 2, 5pm
Abu Dhabi TV – Sunday April 3, 12.30pm
Al Emarat – Friday April 1, 9.30pm
Al Emarat – Saturday April 2, 3.30pm
Al Emarat – Sunday April 3, 10.30am