26 Positive Reviews; One Mixed; One Negative + Director's Statement.

Writer-director Grant Carsten’s Sanctuary Dream is a potent and powerful depiction of autism that uses the visual medium to zap the audience directly into the shoes of such individuals, allowing ordinary people to experience the trauma of autism firsthand. Starring Traven Thomas as Faisal Ost, the film charts Faisal’s difficult life as domestic disturbances, violence and homelessness force this autistic individual to reluctantly find peace in his life.

Right off the bat, the performances by the actors are fascinating. Traven Thomas as Faisal is a revelation as he dives deep into his troubled character to elicit a performance that is raw and authentic. Kristin Grismore as his mother Julia and John Allan as his father Harris are also great. 

Low budget films have to usually rely on the actors’ performances to stand out and here, everyone in the main and supporting cast has done a phenomenal job to bring the screenplay to life.

The most fascinating thing about Sanctuary Dream is that it uses the visual medium to convey how autistic individuals feel. From the extreme closeups of characters depicting uneasiness to the repetitive actions, the film goes above and beyond in depicting the autistic experience. 

The cinematography has a specific purpose; the camera angles, the color grading and camera motion all work together to convey to us the autistic experience. The out of focus shots and the vibrant color depict the confusion present inside Faisal’s mind as he struggles to make sense of the world around him. 

The music is another thing that works really well. The score elevates the entire film, conveying feelings and emotions that cannot be expressed through the visual medium alone.

Carsten melds the narrative with the pacing and editing masterfully, creating a narrative that slows down when he wants to and speeds up in moments of tension. This also helps us understand the sensory perception of Faisal himself as the autistic protagonist experiences the world in line with his disorder. Faisal’s reality is rattling, and the film places us in the first-row seat to help us experience the unsettling realities of a life with such a disorder.

Running at a brisk 70 minutes, Sanctuary Dream is an unconventional yet powerful film that succeeds in leaving a mark on your mind. While its low budget prevents it from truly breaking out, Sanctuary Dream is nonetheless a praiseworthy attempt by first time director Grant Carsten. Not only does the film nail the aesthetic of this disorder, but the heartfelt story that makes up the bulk of the narrative moves us, enabling us to identify with autistic individuals and thus, lend a helping hand to their difficult journeys. 

With the film now starting to hit award circuits, audiences and critics will have a chance to experience first-hand what is simply a unique visual and visceral experience.

From INDIE-WRAP MAGAZINE, after the film won 3 awards in Paris + nominated for 5 more; August 2nd, 2021 

To get the most out of Sanctuary Dream, it is best to know that everything is filtered through the lens of its lead character, Faisal (Traven Thomas). Faisal is autistic, so all the emotions are larger than life, and don’t always land as naturally as people not on the spectrum have come to expect. This does mean there is a fundamental disconnect between the somewhat exaggerated feelings being shown and the grounded, intense way the movie wants the viewer to feel.

However, there is a crucial difference between Grant Carsten’s feature-length debut here and other movies – most movies do not take this approach on purpose, whereas it is part and parcel of the entire experience that is Sanctuary Dream. Not to say the film hits that right balance entirely, but more on that in a bit.

Faisal’s home life is not great. His father (John Allan) beats his mom, Julia (Kristin Grismore), and berates the boy for little things. Braxton (David Carsten), Faisal’s older brother, regularly hits, harasses, and yells at him. One night, after things have gotten too heated for him to handle anymore, Faisal leaves home.

He wanders the city for a few days, meeting both helpful and rude people along the way. After being returned home, his dad’s temper is even worse than usual, so both Faisal and his mom leave. They stay at Martha’s (Kendeyl Johansen) house. Martha is Julia’s best friend from school, and she and her husband, Phil (Cj Bodily), are kind and patient people. All this change confuses Faisal to some degree, though he appreciates their kindness as best he can.

The film opens stating its intentions to replicate how those with autism see the world and deal with emotion. To that end, Carsten, who wrote and directed Sanctuary Dream, uses a diverse color palette to signify the current mood of Faisal visually. It works and does indeed put the audience into his headspace in a clear, intimate matter, without overburdening the script with cumbersome exposition. From a visual standpoint, a few awkward edits aside, the movie looks pretty good.

The writing is where the issues with the drama lie. More specifically, the writing of Braxton. For all the attention paid to Faisal, it is his story after all, Braxton is left shortchanged. After his mom and brother both leave their dad, he goes to stay with them at Martha’s. There, he talks about how angry he is that they left him there and that they don’t know that the dad did not also hit him, and he continually talks about how violent and dangerous Faisal can be. None of these things are shown or explored, so they come across as deflecting blame. By not showing the audience these things, the film feels to give Braxton an arc of any kind (even Julia has one). This makes him one-note and the single most frustrating aspect of the film, but not the only one.

There’s a scene where an entitled woman is driving her car in a park where she shouldn’t be. She almost hits a cyclist, and when confronted with her reckless behavior, she goes off, calling the clearly caucasian man various racial slurs. It is a wholly unnecessary scene, as the focus is none of the main characters and is just an odd diversion from the story. The dialogue also vacillates at times between believable and too on the nose for its own good.

 

Most of the time, the script allows the audience to feel overwhelmed or confused the same as Faisal by its visuals, with the dialogue only existing when needed. But, sometimes, it feels like the film is trying to tie everything up in a neat little bow, so some heart-to-hearts feels unearned and more Hallmark-y than intended. The oddest part of that is it seems Carsten knows feelings can’t be contained to such niceties, which is why Sanctuary Dream exists, to begin with.

Traven Thomas is remarkable as Faisal. Every moment of confusion, honest earnestness and joy (when he’s playing music on his keyboard) registers believable across his face. Grismore is also quite good as his mom. When crying into Martha’s shoulders, Julia’s relief over leaving her husband, and fear of what she’ll do now, feels authentic. Despite issues with how the character is written, David Carsten is believable as the always angry Braxton. As Martha and Phil, Johansen and Bodily are excellent together. Their quietness and sincerity are a nice contrast to the loud violence of the living situation Faisal was in earlier.

Sanctuary Dream is a sure-footed, though flawed debut from Grant Carsten. The film’s strong use of colors and extreme close-ups visually put the audience into the mindset of someone on the spectrum. While some of his writing and characterizations need work, Carsten is definitely a filmmaker to keep an eye on for.

Film Threat Review by Bobby LePire

(1st Mixed Review, yet states 8 out of 10).

May 21, 2020

This film is unlike any other in the way it portrays the plights of stress, misunderstanding, and both internal/external stimulation from the perspective of a person with autism. Throughout the whole film, director Grant Carsten makes clear to the viewer the differences that exist in sensory perception, time, and space in the mind of Faisal(the main character). These differences in the way Faisal sees the world are masterfully manifested in the exacerbation of Faisal's struggles to find peace after a violent upbringing. The viewer accompanies Faisal on this journey, as if they were learning about the world through a completely new point of view.

From start to finish, this film is sure to keep the viewer on the edge of their seat, as most have never experienced anything resemblant to Faisal's jarring reality. The execution is near flawless, and the meticulousness of the production leaves no stone unturned. I would recommend this film to anyone and everyone

Malek Abouljoud - better known as Kai Waves from Spotify; from Detroit, Michigan.

April 15th, 2020

From beginning to end, Sanctuary Dream is a very personal story about the all-too-real hardships and struggles that autistic individuals and their families have. The 'personal' aspect of this statement truly comes across in the film's many tight, close up shots of the main character and his interactions with family and friends. The first scene is a great example of this, immediately capturing the viewer's attention. The following sequences depict how quickly misunderstanding can lead to tension and aggressive behavior, especially in the household. Some of the repetitive actions and diction used by the main character immerse the viewer by giving them a real idea of what it's like to have autism and how differently an autistic individual can perceive a situation.

Aesthetically, the film looks great. Characters and locations remain in focus and the cinematography is impressive throughout. The editing and pace linger when needed, and pick up in times of action/emotional trauma. The choice of coloring in scenes add to their overall impact and memorableness. There are various moments in the film where colors seem to help express how the main character is thinking/feeling. Sanctuary Dream also contains a soundtrack which fits very well with what's being displayed onscreen. The songs are thought-out and genuine with a majority of the tones and lyrics reflecting what the main character is feeling/going through.

Overall, this is a worthwhile film to view and is undoubtedly relatable to those who live with or know someone with autism. Director Grant Carsten did an amazing job which is exemplified in the film's festival entries and awards.

Alston Crosby -  Film Rental House Technician and Soccer Fanatic at University of Utah.

October 18th, 2019

a

Daniel Butters - LDS Missionary

October 15th, 2019

 

Chuck Waagen - Underground Macabre Filmmaker

December 6th, 2019

I ran into this while searching for authentic-looking movies dealing with autism. Sanctuary Dream is as authentic as it gets. Written and produced by Grant Carsten, a young man who is himself autistic, it thematizes domestic violence and homelessness, and attempts to simulate the way autistic people experience the world. This is achieved through unusual visual and sound effects, as well as the purposefully chopped-up narration. 

The movie follows the journey of Faisal, an autistic teen, who flees from home and his abusive family in search of the Peace House, the titular dream sanctuary, where he could at last feel safe. Both the content and the presentation are raw, dissonant and disturbing, but the story ends on a hopeful note. Faisal finds the Peace House where one would least expect it at that point — in the company and kindness of well-meaning, open-minded people; and manages to connect with them through his interest in music and poetry.

For an indie production with a very modest budget, Sanctuary Dream is an amazing achievement. I enjoyed the soundtrack and the beautiful photography, and I was impressed by the performance of the lead actor, Traven Thomas, who was impeccable. I invite you to read the many thoughtful and overwhelmingly positive reviews on the Sanctuary Dream website, and visit its Facebook page for more info and some juicy behind-the-scenes morsels.

The movie can be purchased on Vimeo.

Anonymous Review; Disclaimer: Sanctuary Dream was once purchasable on Vimeo.

June 20th, 2019

 


 

The film Sanctuary Dream is not only an achievement for Grant Carsten, but for the entire Park City community. To make a movie of this artistic merit with such a small budget is easier said than done. It seems to me, all the team really "believed" in what they were doing. Aside from the writing, the great music score, the direction, the casting, and acting, I was totally impressed with each and every frame and "blocking" of actors within the scenes. The careful consideration of details in composition is evident in every shot. The visual story telling is brilliant. Many long sequences with little or no dialogue are fantastic. My eyes were glued to the screen throughout the movie. All of us will keep our eyes on Carsten because this is only the beginning for him. He even looks a bit like David Lynch.

 

George Grant - Music Artist; Pocatello, Idaho

December 5th, 2018

“Sanctuary Dream” is an edgy, disturbing, enlightening look into autism; perceived through an autistic teen in an abusive family. Using movement, framing, editing, and music – discordant and raucous contrasted with quiet, but never quite settling – the viewer is given an experience of agitation and a longing for peace, the very life of the protagonist. Masterfully effective.

Roxanne Paukner – Screenwriter, Production Designer; Eau Claire, Wisconsin

October 22, 2018
 

The opening scene plunges you to a world that makes you clench your teeth and cringe. From the beginning, it feels like a downward spiral, a maelstrom. You actually think that you will never catch your breath: you entered Faisal’s world. 

On your quest for the Peace House, you will encounter many characters. To my eyes (Faisal’s eyes?), they all seem like caricatures of human beings and very soon, I will learn not to trust any of them…

Through very effective close ups, chromatic colors and singular sound editing, you navigate through Faisal’s moods and emotions. The film is alternatively very raw and heartfelt, in a surrealistic and at the same time all too familiar setting. It is unique and quite compelling; a display of technical skills and deep sensitivity.

Bernard Rizzotto - PCHS Teacher; from Saint-Raphaël, France

October 21st, 2018

Sanctuary Dream explores the moment-to-moment intensity felt by a thoughtful autistic youth in the face of an indifferent and hostile world with which he cannot fully relate. Faisal struggles with the power dynamics of a broken home where he is often forgotten. Ultimately, there is hope in Faisal's resilient spirit and clear growth despite his adverse circumstances. Sanctuary Dream is an authentic and engrossing portrait of anxiety.

 

Brian Nicholas - Atlanta, Georgia

October 20th, 2018

Right from the start the movie sets off with jarring audio and strained close up shots on our autistic main character, leading to him banging away at an electric keyboard with the mannerisms of a coked up monkey. Sanctuary Dream feels kind of like that, which is not a bad thing.

 

The character study of FAISAL takes a deeply personal look into the life and story of somebody who goes through life as someone with extreme autism. As many people have probably already said, it really makes you ‘feel’ like a person with autism. The main character doesn’t react ‘normally’ to any situations before him, so the movie at times feels like it's moving on rails that are uncontrollable to the character, the director, and the audience. Completely unexpected and completely unpredictable.

 

There are times where you will be like “what the f*** is going on”, but it all still works.  The cinematography, framing, and cut up editing makes the movie feel cramped and suffocating. Everything feels out of place, but at the same time uniquely composed, like a fine baroque piece of music which could only be played by somebody with real mental illness.

 

This is a movie which is intended to be watched and digested by someone who can somewhat relate to the central character, who suffers with medium-functioning autism. We spend all the time with him, and I can only imagine he might not be as likeable to the ‘neurotypical’ viewers as it is from someone who actually suffers from mental illness. That could be a problem for some viewers. 

 

If you don’t like him, you probably won’t like the movie. However, I think it is very hard not to like him. I found a lot to relate in Faisal, and even if I were completely sane in the head, I think I would still find a lot to relate to him as a character. I think that’s a truly remarkable thing to do - to bring somebody with autism to the screen, and not only have the movie be about him, but told through his eyes. The movie succeeds as that.

 

I liked this movie a lot. There are some nonsensical plot points but the movie overall exceeded my expectations in what it set out to do: an honest perspective of life with autism.

Charlie Rippel - Irreverently High-functioning Person of Autism; Undergraduate at Emerson College in Massachusetts

October 7th, 2018 (Synthesis Review)

Sanctuary Dream: A Well Executed Film Needing a Narrative Makeover

 

In the opening we see text over an image of a pencil stating that the film will portray the discomfort and confusion that’s associated with the experiences of an autistic person. Grant Carsten succeeds in making his audience confused and uncomfortable. It is unclear if the events reflect reality or if they are the perception and hallucinations of the autistic teen, Faisal.

The other characters of the film: the brother, father, and the strangers Faisal meets along his journey have strangely abrasive and sometimes violent behavior toward Faisal, and at times even towards each other. Although the cinematography and editing is successful and refined, the content of the film, dialogue and authenticity of events and conversations are confusing and unrealistic.

I had so many questions throughout the film. The plotline needed refinement and the characters lacked backstories explaining their absurd behavior. Specifically, the father, who demonstrated insane and murderous behavior.

The use of melodramatic coloring was successful at times, but some shots were overdone and distracting.

The music was one of the most successful aspects of the film. It was subtle and did not overshadow the film. It was effective, making transitions more seamless and emoting the mood of the scene.

The use of lighting, especially natural sunlight was very efficient. The close-up shots of Faisal, with sunlight in his face illuminates his eyes and drew me into the character. These shots create an intimate connection between the viewer and Faisal. It made me question how he’s feeling and what he’s thinking.

In conclusion, the cinematography and editing were well done but the plotline lacked believability and the character's behavior and dialogue was unnatural.  

Christina Niemann; Salt Lake, Utah

October 6th, 2018 (Anti-thesis Review; 1st Negative Review)

Utah-based filmmaker Grant Carsten’s new feature Sanctuary Dream touches upon the complex realities of life all too often glossed over or ignored by the big-budget theatrical films of Hollywood.

 

In a word, Carsten’s film is impressive. The fact that a young filmmaker in his early twenties could realistically depict emotionally charged scenes of abuse, homelessness, and autism and produce a 70-minute film on a limited budget deserves much praise.

 

But the film is more than the filmmaker’s age, portraying the life of an autistic character in a powerful way few films have exhibited. The beginning of Carsten’s film features the words, “It is healthy for minds to walk through different perspectives.” These words fit the film perfectly. 

 

Sanctuary Dream thrusts its viewers into the world of Faisal (impressively acted by Traven Thomas), a young man with autism living in an abusive household.

 

Viewers with no prior knowledge of autism or abuse are given enlightening scenes of life in Faisal’s world — his fears, frustrations, confusions, and finally, dreams. Throughout the film, a multitude of good and bad people drift in and out of Faisal’s chaotic life as he desperately searches for comfort. 

 

Sanctuary Dream does not treat Faisal like an alien, but as a kid who simply wants safety. The acting, colors, cinematography, and score of the film are all impressively done, with only minor mistakes noted.

 

But overall, the film stands as an important document of the hardships those with autism can endure and is recommended for any age. 

Dominic Martella - Practical Effects Enthusiast; West Lafayette, Indiana

October 6th, 2018 (Thesis Review)

Intriguing with its use of color correction and sound editing, this film uses some very interesting techniques to help the audience enter the mind of the autistic protagonist. Sanctuary Dream gives the audience a peek into the life of someone they may not have been able to understand or identify with otherwise. The story is rambling and slow paced, but it is incredibly raw and heartfelt. It gives the film a power and truth that wouldn’t be there otherwise. Brilliantly, and emotionally acted out by Traven Thomas, he perfectly portrays someone with whom a neurotypical person might not have the patience or empathy to deal with or care about.

 

The shot choice is unique, some of the shots are framed up in a way that might seem sloppy, but still holds interest and tells their own individual stories, by what they don’t show rather than what they do show. Many of the scenes are stunning, showing the beauty of the world around, while others are terrifyingly dark or bright to show how confusing and scary the world can be. The editing is simple, not overly clean and not flashy, but effective. The music fits and builds the tone of each scene incredibly well.

 

This film has its fair share of problems, both technical and artistic (mostly audio and acting issues), but even if those were fixed, it would be nothing without the heartfelt raw emotions that it shares with the audience.

Tony Holt - Film-maker; Los Angeles, California

October 5th, 2018

All in all, this is one of the better films I have seen for its budget. I felt for Faisal and even for his brother who I know just wasn't processing his situation well. He probably took his direction from his father who should have known better than to act that way. Father was really the only child in the film. I'm a big fan of docu/fantasy. I just made that up but I think this film fits. It felt a bit to me like Trainspotting. I would have loved to see more of Faisal's happy times in his own little world.

 

Jim Andre - local Gaffer; Chicago Area, Illinois

October 4th, 2018

​Sanctuary Dream holds nothing back when putting a viewer in the brutal and confusing world of Faisal. The film offers a unique window into the mind of a Person of Autism through its atmosphere. Choppy editing, drastic chromatic changes, fantastic music, and a brilliant performance from Mr. Thomas all contribute to forcing the viewer to share the mindset of Faisal throughout his journey. Faisal’s inability to navigate everyday life does lead to the pace of the film dragging in spots, but ultimately it succeeds in telling an eye-opening story that dares to show the reality of a life that most cannot imagine living.

Dylan Pinkney - Park City High School Alumni; Park City, Utah

October 2nd, 2018
 

 

 

I've watched the movie. In my review, I want to express my gratitude and amazing experience. After being witness for this temporal piece, I have new understanding of challenges which a person of Autism experiences in contemporary society. Amazing movie! I am proud to see such amazing talent.

Yuriy Ekshteyn - Massage Therapist; Moscow, Russia

September 18, 2018
 

I thought Sanctuary Dream was a very stylistic and experimental film trying, and succeeding, to delve into what it's like to have autism. The camera is almost never still and the editing is schizophrenic. I enjoyed the use of colour, the music was fitting and the acting top-notch.

 

Although it had some sound issues (likely due to its low budget I imagine), the film feels very honest and it's very impressive what the filmmakers have accomplished. A very good example of low budget/indie filmmaking done right.

Kristján Jónsson - Filmmaker; Reykjavik, Iceland.

September 9th, 2018

Sanctuary Dream invites me into living in an atmosphere with violence targeting on autism. That makes Faisal’s will to “get out of here” more relatable. It brings glory to the fight that people like Faisal have to dive through every second. Sometimes with an abusive parent, an angry sibling and for the most of the time, himself. In addition, the score works really well with the story. It has a rich texture, plus emotional up-and-downs, even though it’s almost invisible under most scenes.

 

Larry 雨青 - Emerson College Alumni; Shanghai, China.

September 7th, 2018

From the first moment, the viewer is plunged headlong into the obsessive existence of adolescent Faisal. We watch in horror, his ineffective and naive attempts to navigate his chaotic life, and his futile attempts to communicate effectively. A confronting film, it captures, with occasional moments of levity and poignancy, Faisal's nightmarish perceptions of the world around him, leaving the viewer unsettled, disoriented and unable to erase the scenes from the mind.

 

Elizabeth Diacos - Melbourne, Australia.

September 6th, 2018

Incredible depth. Emotionally accurate, I was drawn in from the very start! Excellent music composition!

Stephanie Judah - a hard working, fun loving person; San Jose, California. 

September 4th, 2018

This movie uniquely paints a picture, using first person and dynamic coloring to represent the mood, and emotional turmoil of the trails a person with autism experiences in their day-to-day life. From the intricate detail to the way the actor showcased his body language, as well as effects on the mind; this gave insight and awareness to not only mental health, but also a spotlight on physical abuse, as well as stress/anxiety, and how it can effect a person.

Shayna Olsen - Medical Esthetician; Lethbridge, Canada.

August 31st, 2018

It was very insightful to watch a film from the perspective of someone with autism. This film did an excellent job portraying the life of someone who endures a condition surrounded by the stigma created by society.

 

Amber DeDen - Registered Nurse and Park City High School Alumni; St. George, Utah.

August 31st, 2018

Sanctuary Dream is a jarring experience, and the dissonance the viewer feels is packed with intent. We enter the mind of Faisal, a teen with autism, as he goes on an odyssey unlike most. He’s looking for love and connection in a world sometimes full of hate and coldness. The camera shots get claustrophobic, the hues change, the audio screeches against your eardrums, but it is all apart of the experience. Seeing the world through the perspective of someone with autism is eye-opening to say the least, as the viewer is thrust into all of the emotions and feelings Faisal goes through by drastically different arrays of sight and sound. Even though Faisal has difficulties grasping the world around him, the impending sense of danger lurks even when the plot is still. Faisal simply wants to find solace, but it’s a treacherous journey with a number of potholes in the road he doesn’t even see coming. The movie is as excellent as its message, and it is novel in its attempt to delve the audience into the conscience of someone with limited capabilities in dealing with his surroundings.

 

Shuerod D. Logan-Walton - Student at Boston College.

August 29th, 2018

Sanctuary Dream follows Faisal; a talented, bright young man who faces the dual adversities of living with autism and domestic violence. Faisal’s inner strength and determination throughout the film are inspiring, and Traven Thomas’ performance is riveting. It is often a lonely journey; one which poignantly reflects the isolation that sometimes comes with autism. For much of the film, Faisal drifts through the lives of several other people; some helpful, others manipulative and abusive.

Remy Pijuan - Person of Autism at the University of Utah and Computer Science Major; Ogden, Utah.  

August 11th, 2018

This film is intense and not like anything I have ever seen, the world through the eyes and ears of autism. Faisal’s mission is to find safety and connection. The world to Faisal is loud, random, non sequitur, confusing, disconnected, exaggerated, violent, cruel, and terrifying. If it looks odd, it is odd looking to a neuro-typical person. Everything is over the top and out of control. It is also a world of hope. It is a remarkable achievement in writing, directing, composing, and editing, all by Grant Carsten.

 

DLC - Empathy Advocate of the U.S. Health Institutions; Vancouver, Washington State.

August 9th, 2018

Life has its ups and downs.  For some, there are a lot more of the latter than the former.  In dark times, sanctuary is what is sought so that we can rest, and then, return to life better equipped to cope with the downs.  In this independent film, the audience is exposed to just some of the myriad of reactions experienced by people on the autism spectrum’s day to day life.  Being judged poorly by others and then, often, treated harshly, can turn simple conflict or anxiety from daily life into a storm.  As viewers sink themselves into the life of Faisal, they will see that he is not causing drama to exist in his life, but that his dramatic expressions are the best manner to communicate his feelings that he knows.  This dramatic film is only a small glimpse into the collective experiences and reactions of those on the autism spectrum.  It is not meant to represent everyone or everything in their lives.  The autism spectrum is just that scale between two extreme or opposite points.  The soundtrack is a complement to the sensations experienced in the film.  When words cannot express the full feeling, the music helps the audience to better understand.  When life becomes troubling, many people seek sanctuary and they repose in it.  At times for some of us, that sanctuary… is only a dream.

David “Divey” Ivey - Person of Autism in his 40's; Salt Lake City, Utah.

August 6th, 2018

Though there are definitely films which depict Autism, almost all of them show viewpoints from the other side. 'Rain Man' and 'What's Eating Gilbert Grape?', though powerful movies, depict Autism through what Tom Cruise and Johnny Depp see in Dustin Hoffman and Leo; 'The Accountant', though great, shows mostly the aftermath of an assassin who learned to cope with and hide his disabilities; 'Life Animated', once again great, is another autistic documentary which shows an overdose of the parents, and Disney Movies making sense to Autists is not new.

Forrest Gump (it's implied) and Temple Grandin are exceptions, though it is clear the viewpoint speaks as a consultant rather than the feeling. This is where my film differs.

I'm not saying my motion picture is better than any of these. Far from it. All these movies are rightfully considered masterpieces and it should stay that way. What I am saying is that no movie which has depicted Autism has simulated what being Autistic feels like. That is exactly where Sanctuary Dream differs.

Whether it's through the story or the technical stuff, Sanctuary Dream goes above and beyond in making sure its audience feels Autistic. The techniques include, but are not limited to -- cinematography and edit cuts which create a sense of constant attack; strong color tints and slightly cheesy acting to give an unreliable narrator quality; and Music which states what could not be verbally or physically told.

Looking at the final result, I am proud to say that Sanctuary Dream is my first feature.

Archived Director's Statement from Withoutabox. 

August 1st, 2018

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