UCCS student’s documentary on autism to be featured at Fine Arts Center

October 17, 2016

Jasmine Nelson

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     Growing up different than other kids can be isolating, but it’s celebrating those differences that can help us understand each other.

     Nine short films will be featured at the Fine Arts Center at 6 p.m. on Oct. 26 as part of the Youth Documentary Academy Premiere. Admission to the event requires $10 for adults and $4 for children.

     One of the film documents freshman communication major Andy Kwiatkowski’s experience growing up with autism.

     Kwiatkowski, who directed the film, shows different autistic symptoms, including difficulty with social skills.

     Dealing with the inherent challenges of being on the autism spectrum led Kwiatkowski to develop his love for movies.

     One of his favorite movies, “Back to the Future,” has helped him with his conversational skills and connecting to others, according to Kwiatkowski.

     “I want (the audience) not only to appreciate me with an autistic disorder, but also with other kids who actually have it as well,” Kwiatkowski said.

     Kwiatkowski’s short film is part of the Youth Documentary Academy, a program at the Bemis School of Art in Colorado Springs that trains young people on how to make their own documentary films.

     Other topics covered by the Youth Documentary Academy include suicide, fatherhood and the politics of hair. The academy accepts applicants who are 14-18 years old.

     Kwiatkowski decided to document his experience, along with spotlighting other young people who live with the disorder, after joining the academy.

     “I want people to understand not only me with this disorder, but people who have this as well. Because they’re not bad people, they just have behaviors that you don’t understand,” said Kwiatkowski.

     “When you get to know them, that’s when you understand them.”

     Autism, a complex mental condition, often makes it difficult to socialize and affects one in 68 children, according to the Center for Disease Control.

     Making friends was difficult as a child, according to Kwiatkowski.

     “For me, I’m fine having a conversation one-onone, but with a group of people, that’s when I feel uncomfortable.”

     He hopes that his film will provide an enlightening perspective on autism.

     Kwiatkowski’s major emphasis is digital filmmaking, and he hopes to make it to Hollywood to become the next Steven Spielberg.

     The process of researching and finding an angle for his projects is his favorite aspect of filmmaking.

     “My favorite part of the process is getting to go out and explore,” he said.

     “Some days you see something instantly that’s not part of the script that you think will be super cool.”