Community Cinema screens The Horse Boy in Philadelphia

The Horse Boy, (airing Tuesday, May 11 at 10 PM, check local listings) explores one family’s unforgettable journey as they travel halfway across the world in search of a miracle to heal their autistic son. On April 21st, WHYY and Community Cinema hosted a screening of The Horse Boy in Philadelphia. More than 200 people packed the venue, including many parents who are raising children with Autism. To create engagement opportunities, ITVS awarded WHYY’s Learning Lab a grant to support the Family Media Project, an innovative video project that explores how three local families have engaged in their child’s autism diagnosis. Candid and eye-opening, the project not only provides a platform for education but a forum for families to tell their own stories. Parent Bill Zukovsky shares his experience working with the Family Media Project:

Bill Zukovsky with his son Andrew

Wow… What an amazing experience! I couldn’t believe I was going to have a camera on my shoulder and a microphone wrapped around my arm while I tried to capture what it was like to be my son, Andrew. There is no way I would even take a photograph, let alone video tape something that was going to be shown online. What was I thinking taking on this project? But let me tell you something, I’m glad I did.

I got plenty of footage of Andrew in school, playing around the house, and more interviews than I can even use. But what happened next would stay with me for a lifetime. Sitting in the editing room, I got to see the raw footage and what I saw just amazed me. For the first time, I sat back and got to see how other people, both Andrew’s peers and the adults in his life, saw him. How accepting they have become of him and all his quirks, and how he is starting to fit in with the world around him. The longer the editing went, and the more we attempted to get everything under the five minute time limit, the more my chest swelled. Of course, while I’m sitting there barking orders — “No, I don’t like that” … “Cut it here” … “That has to be in there somewhere!” — I’m choking back the tears of joy in seeing my son join a world that I never thought he would enter.

The WHYY Learning Lab creates an opportunity to help others understand what it’s like to be you; your problems, your issues, your trials, and your triumphs. But during the process, I learned a lot, and not just about how to frame a shot or cut a clip. I learned that my son has come a long way in his development. He does have the capability to lead a typical life. He has a lot to offer the people around him and can teach them about patience and understanding. It gives me hope and desire to keep giving Andrew all the opportunity I can to make his life something great.

– Bill Zukovsky, participant in the WHYY Learning Lab’s Family Media Project

The Horse Boy will air nationally on Independent Lens on May 11 at 10:00 PM on PBS (check local listings).