Autism Through Cinema

The Rider (2017) dir. Chloe Zhao

May 28, 2021

The discussion of Chloé Zhao’s second feature film addresses the fine line between fact and fiction with actors playing themselves. We debate whether autistic sister Lily (Lily Jandreau) is the only free character in this western set in the badlands of South Dakota, resistant to the demands of the hyper-masculine patriarchal world of rodeo and refusing the trappings of femininity by cutting up a bra her father buys her. There’s also debate about whether difference is drafted into the film as story markers or plot points, the problematic treatment of animals (particularly horses), and the potentially cliched idea that there’s affinity between animals and autistic people.

It's also worth noting that this episode was recorded before Zhao won the Best Picture and Best Director Academy Awards for Nomadland (2020), just in case you were wondering why we don't mention it!

Discussants: Georgia Bradburn, Steven Eastwood, Janet Harbord, David Hartley, Alex Widdowson.

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