Autism Through Cinema

Special Episode: Relaxed Screenings with Maggi Hurt (BFI)

October 21, 2022

In a break with our normal schedule, and posted a week early, we bring you a special episode where we reflect on the nature of 'Relaxed Screenings'.

You might have seen these advertised at cinemas - special events organised with autistic and neurodivergent audiences in mind. Typically the lights are dimmed but not fully turned off, the volume is lowered, there's an understanding among the audience that there may be people fidgeting or making noise, and there's often a separate room set aside as a quiet space. All these accommodations are to be welcomed, but perhaps there are also some problems that arise from trying to create a 'one size fits all' approach to autism-friendly screenings? Also, who chooses the films that are shown in these relaxed screenings? What might happen when the curators are autistic themselves?

To discuss all this, Ethan and David have invited Maggi Hurt, a programmer at the British Film Institute in the Southbank, London. Maggi has been responsible for devising and programming the 'Relaxed Series' screenings where she has worked in collaboration with autistic film lovers to curate events for autistic audiences. For their upcoming 'In Dreams are Monsters' season, our very own Ethan Lyon has taken up the challenge, and has programmed two horror films for the Relaxed Series. We talk about Ethan's choices, while also reflecting on how relaxed screenings work and what their future might be.

Tickets are still available for Ethan's screenings, and the man himself will be there to lead a Q&A discussion session afterwards at both events. Here are the details:

Pontypool - Monday 31st October 2022, 18:10, NFT3. Tickets here: https://whatson.bfi.org.uk/Online/default.asp?BOparam::WScontent::loadArticle::permalink=pontypoolrelaxed

The Fly - Monday 28th November 2022, 18:00, NFT3. Tickets here: https://whatson.bfi.org.uk/Online/default.asp?BOparam::WScontent::loadArticle::permalink=flyrelaxed 

Also, David mentions a book by autistic journalist Laura Kate Dale, who writes a little about relaxed screenings. The book is called Uncomfortable Labels and you can find it here: https://www.waterstones.com/book/uncomfortable-labels/laura-kate-dale/9781785925870 

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