SONY Pictures Entertainment, ABC’s The Good Doctor, Netflix’s Atypical, and several filmmakers were honored yesterday for their contributions to autism awareness “From Spectrum to Screen” at the 2nd Annual AutFest International Film Festival (April 28-29), held at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills, CA. AutFest screened over 16 feature films, short films and television programs that promote autism awareness and/or are made by autistic filmmakers.
Seven-time Emmy® winner and autism advocate Ed Asner presented SONY Pictures Entertainment with the AutFest Visionary Award, bestowed upon Jeff Frost, President of Sony Pictures Television Studios, and Co-Presidents of Sony Pictures Television Chris Parnell and Jason Clodfelter at the festival’s closing reception. ABC’s The Good Doctor and Netflix’s Atypical received Spotlight Awards, honored for their exceptional portrayal of autism in a positive light to help increase understanding and acceptance of people on the spectrum.

Prior to the reception, cast and crew of Netflix’s ATYPICAL participated in a Q&A moderated by PEOPLE reporter Kara Warner after a screening of two episodes. Participating in the panel were Creator Robia Rashid (Will & Grace, How I Met Your Mother); Oscar®-nominated actress Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight), Brigette Lundy-Paine (Downsizing, The Glass Castle), Keir Gilchrist (It’s Kind of a Funny Story), Nik Dodani (Kevin from Work), Layla Weiner and Nikki Gutman; Executive Producers Mary Rohlich (Gleason, Baywatch); Author David Finch (The Journal of Best Practices) and Autism Consultant Michelle Dean (Ph.D. Special Education, UCLA).

Following the Atypical panel, ABC’s THE GOOD DOCTOR screened one episode and held a panel/Q&A immediately following. Executive Producer David Shore (The Good Doctor, House, Sneaky Pete); Emmy® winning actor Richard Schiff (The Good Doctor, Ballers, The West Wing), Nicholas Gonzalez (The Good Doctor, How to Get Away with Murder, Pretty Little Liars, Narcos) and Autism ConsultantMelissa Reiner (Md.Ed) participated, also moderated by Kara Warner, PEOPLE.

Additional highlights of the festival included a POWER RANGERS screening, followed by a panel with Actor RJ Cyler, who plays Billy Cranston, an autistic nerd and the super hero Blue Ranger. Also on the panel was Oscar-nominated Executive Producer/Writer John Gatins (Flight), moderated by Director/Producer Kevin Tenney. The panel was met with a huge ovation from the audience as the Blue Power Ranger character (RJ Cyler) is the first super hero to be depicted as autistic.

The film PLEASE STAND BY screening was followed by a panel with Director Ben Lewin (Please Stand By, The Sessions), Writer Michael Golcamo (Please Stand By, Grimm) and Autism ConsultantElaine Hall (The Miracle Project, Fly Away), moderated by Matt Asner, AutFest founder and Autism Society's VP of Development. Celebrities including Emmy-nominated Gary Cole (Veep), Oscar-nominated actor Robert Forster (Jackie Brown), Denise Grayson (Social Network) and Johnny Dowers (The Bridge) were on hand to attend the festival’s closing festivities.

“AutFest is proud to honor SONY Pictures Entertainment and outstanding television shows Atypical and The Good Doctor for their cinematic and television contributions reflecting the autism community in a positive light,” said Matt Asner. ‘From Spectrum to Screen’, we are touched by the overwhelming support of the entertainment and autism communities, and look forward to this annual event.”

Over six feature films and eight short films and two television series were presented during the two-day festival that included Roman J. Israel Esq, Barfi, Dina and Randy’s Canvas. Two of the shorts, The Girl Inside and Big Mouth were written and directed by filmmakers on the autism spectrum. A special panel addressing “Love and Relationships” followed the Barfi screening. For more information, or follow @AutFest on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.

The 2nd Annual AutFest International Film Festival winners include:

Best Film:

  • Randy’s Canvasdirected by Sean Michael Beyer (U.S.A.)

Best Documentary:

  • Dinadirected by Antonio Santini and Dan Sickles (U.S.A.)

Best Short:

  • Sisterlydirected by Nina Vallado (U.S.A.)

Best Performance

  • Adam Carbone, Randy’s Canvas (U.S.A.)

Best Autistic Filmmaker:

  • Abbey RomeoThe Girl Inside (U.S.A.)


In attendance were Autism Society’s Joe Joyce (Chairman, Board of Directors), Scott Badesch (President and CEO) and Lori Ireland (Vice Chair, Board of Directors). AutFest Honorary Committee Members include seven-time Emmy® winner and autism advocate Ed Asner, actress Kristen Bell (House of Lies), actor Dax Shepard (CHIPS), Emmy-winning actress comedian Sarah Silverman, Golden Globe®-nominated actor Matthew Modine (Stranger Things), Emmy-nominated actor Gary Cole (Veep), Autism Speaks co-founder Bob Wright, The Suzanne Wright Foundation president Liz Feld, Warner Bros.


AutFest 2018 is proudly sponsored by GOLD: Hyundai, State of Qatar, Sony Pictures, Entertainment; SILVER: Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, Lindamood Belle, Netflix; FRIENDS OF THE FESTIVAL: ABC, Autism Pie, Bob Wright, Center for Developing Minds, ICM, Saban, SAG-Aftra;TRIBUTE BOOK: PCW Props, Shuman Management; MEDIA SPONSORSABC, VarietyINKIND: Foreo, MAC Cosmetics, One-Hope Wine, Penta Water, Runway Tech, Sevenly, Sprouts; GIFTBAG: Art by Luis, Designs by Siri, Lindamood Belle, Thikkun Spa


AutFest International Film Festival’s mission is to further advance the wellbeing of all with an autism diagnosis, as well as to educate our nation about autism and the important need to fully respect and value each person with autism. We wish to celebrate films that promote autism awareness and that have the power to enhance the lives of our community. We also wish to honor and support Autistic filmmakers and artists that have chosen film as their profession. For more information, visit or follow AutFest on FacebookTwitter  and Instagram.
Founded in 1965, the Autism Society is the nation’s leading grassroots autism organization, and exists to improve the lives of all affected by autism. We do this by increasing public awareness about the day-to-day issues faced by people on the autism spectrum, advocation for appropriate services for individuals across the lifespan, and providing the latest information regarding treatment, education and research. The Society maintains a strong nationwide network of affiliates to provide support and grassroots advocacy at local, state and federal
Sony Pictures Television (SPT) is one of the television industry’s leading content providers, producing and distributing programming worldwide in every genre and for every platform. In addition to managing one of the industry’s largest libraries of award-winning feature films, television shows and formats, SPT is home to a thriving global production business operating 21 wholly-owned or joint venture production companies in 12 countries around the world. Sony Pictures Television is a Sony Pictures Entertainment Company.