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Film about adult autism resonates with students and provides them the opportunity to discuss important, current issues

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Emily Foster

Staff Writer

A documentary film following the journey of three young men with autism on a swim team was screened last Thursday on campus.

The showing of “Swim Team” was hosted by the South Arts Film Circuit in the Trojan Center Theatre.

Avery Livingston, the coordinator of civic engagement for Troy University, said she thought the film “really resonated with the students this time around.”

The film screening was followed by a question-and-answer time with the director and producer Lara Stolman where students asked about making the film and the people it featured.

“I think more students were apt to raise hands and ask a question because maybe people know others with disabilities,” Livingston said.

The film focused on the lives of men on the swim team “The Hammerheads” for young people with disabilities. The documentary showed them in practices and competitions but also followed them home and revealed some of the struggles of home life someone with autism or other disabilities may have.

“I already have a soft heart for people with autism, so it did get me in some areas,” said Matthew Helms, a senior broadcast journalism major from Montgomery. “My cousin has autism, so it made me think what my aunt and uncle had to go through to raise him.”

Thursday night saw possibly the biggest turnout for a film screening for the circuit with around 100 students. Some came for class credit while others came because they were interested in the topic and independent films or because they were just looking for something free to do on a Thursday night.

“I saw the movie because friends of mine were talking about it, and to be honest, I didn’t have anything else going on, so I figured why not go see a free movie on campus?” Helms said. “I thought it was really good.”

Helms said he wishes there had been more advertising about the event, as he did not know about it other than by word of mouth, and he didn’t know what the movie would be about when he went to see it.

“I went to see ‘Swim Team’ because I knew it was an independently made film; I’m looking to do a project like that myself, and so I went to see what examples of that project would look like,” said Christian Carlson, a senior theater major from Brewton. “I would love to see more indie films come to Troy.

“I loved the documentary style and the information that that brought up about something that I really felt a little bit ignorant about. I would love to see some more independently done fictional films, too.”

The hope for these films is to help get students thinking and talking about relevant issues they might not be confronted with in class.

“This is one of many, many things that we do just to try to get students thinking and talking about current events or challenging issues in the United States,” said Livingston.

“It makes you watch something that you probably wouldn’t, but if it’s on the big screen, if it’s for a class or your friends are going, you’re more likely to watch it and think about heavier issues, more challenging issues, current issues,” Livingston said.

“We want to get students thinking outside the box, get them thinking outside the classroom.

“There are a lot of issues that these films deal with.”

Troy is part of a Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Film Makers, in which filmmakers will come with their films three times a semester to show and discuss.

The next and last film screening, “Bending the Arc,” will be held on Thursday, April 12, at 6 p.m. in the Trojan Center Theatre.